by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Time to venture into the Southland to face LA Galaxy on a Saturday night. It’s Opposite Day in Carson, as the Sounders, riding high on an unprecedented run of good form face the beleaguered home side who have lost their last five matches. You have to ask, which LA Galaxy will we face? Will it be the side that lost its last five matches in a row or the side that was unbeaten in the eight matches preceding those? Also, Ex-Sounders manager, Sigi Schmid, has replaced Curt Onalfo as LA Galaxy’s new Manager, setting the stage for Schmid and his new charges to face the club that presided over his sacking last season. LA will have Zardes back from Gold Cup, and Seattle will recover Dempsey, Morris, and Fisher. However, it’s possible none of them will play a role in tonight’s match as the Final was only three days ago. Find your Green Family where ye may. At the match on Avalon Boulevard, or at one of the many Sounders-friendly pubs in the Greater Puget Sound Area. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Sounders are sitting in the lofty mid-table heights of 11th place in the league. Riding their best form of the season, Seattle have won a season-best three matches in a row, and are unbeaten in their last five, also a record for this season. By comparison, Los Angeles find themselves in the unusual position of not only being only three places above bottom-dwellers DC United but also having lost their last five matches, their worst run of form this season. The Sounders have won the only match played between the sides, defeating the Galaxy 0:3 in Carson some three months ago. LA are having a hard time winning at home in general, having won only once in 10 attempts. Against common opponents, including each other, Seattle have done much better taking 29 out of 51 points, as opposed to the Galaxy’s 18 points of 51. In terms of defending, the Sounders have allowed less than a goal and a half per match whilst their rivals from the Southland are allowing closer to two goals per match. This is a slight advantage, but it favours the Sounders nonetheless. We no longer have to face Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane anymore. I think we can all agree that is something to be grateful for. Roldan is on fine form, doing a fantastic job as Lodeiro’s understudy in the 3:0 victory over San Jose on Sunday. Morris has returned from the Gold Cup Final match, where he hit the winner in stunning fashion, earning the Yanks a zonal championship, and in general had a very successful tournament. Dempsey and Fisher also return, as does Lodeiro having served his one-match ban. Lodeiro has a tough act to follow, as Roldan cut apart the Quakes defence filling in as his understudy. Could Morris, Dempsey, and Fisher start? Or will they play roles off the bench with muscles still recovering three days after playing the Gold Cup final?
The Bad News
Although recent form would suggest that such results are inapplicable, history leans favourably to Los Angeles defeating us in general, and doing particularly well against us in the shadow of Dominguez Hills. The overall numbers are sobering as the Sounders have only managed to defeat the Galaxy six times in 22 matches in the all-time series between the sides. When playing on the road in Los Angeles, the Sounders have won only three out of 11 all-time. The Sounders’ away record is not appalling but could use a bit of sprucing up as we have only won two matches out of 11 this season. We can take some measure of solace though, in that one of those road victories was against the Galaxy this season. As additional sauce for the goose, former Sounders Manager, Sigi Schmid has taken the managerial position at Los Angeles and I can’t see him not wanting his boys to take a scalp off the Sounders who gave him the sack last season, shortly before the crucial transfer that brought Lodeiro to the Evergreen from Boca Juniors. The media are reporting that the Galaxy see this match as a must-win. There are few things in football harder to deal with than a club with their backs to the wall. Expect things to get woolly in a hurry, as Los Angeles will likely come out hard with their challenges applied in similar fashion. Before the five loss tailspin, between April and June, the Galaxy were on sharp form having been unbeaten in eight matches. You have to wonder which LA side will show up tonight.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Rowe, 28, has 75 pro appearances, 54 with the Galaxy and was developed by UCLA. In those 54 appearances, he has 15 clean sheets. A fine goalkeeper, but outside the radar of the United States national team.
Defence – Diallo, 27, is a French national developed by Olympique Marseille, his hometown team. He never featured in the first team for Marseille in his three years at the club. Trips to Oldham and RWS Bruxelles were short-lived. He moved to Los Angeles in 2014 and he has played 10 matches for the Galaxy. Steres, 26, developed by San Diego Aztecs (NCAA) is an old hand and has played nearly 130 pro matches, 45 of them for Los Angeles. Van Damme, 33, is a seasoned professional with over 200 matches in Belgian football for Anderlecht and Standard Liège. Add to that 31 caps for Belgium. Van Damme has featured 45 times for Los Angeles. The venerable Ashley Cole, 36, needs no introduction. His 107 England caps and over 400 matches of English football, many of them with Arsenal, firmly establish his credentials as a professional.
Midfield – Garcia, 28, developed by Cal State Northridge (NCAA), has appeared 39 times for the Galaxy, and 84 times as a professional. Jermaine Jones, 35, is a fierce competitor whose resumé is well known. He has played over 300 times as a professional. Much of that experience was hard-earned in the German Bundesliga. He has nearly 70 United States caps. He is a known commodity as a holding midfielder, and can occasionally score goals. He is as well known for his skill as he is for his volatile temperament. I met him once at a pub in San Francisco. He seemed utterly cheerless. Alessandrini, 28, is a serious attacking threat and is amongst the most likely of his teammates to score a goal. He has over 100 matches of French football under his belt and would have featured for Les Bleus if not for injury. Alessandrini has a career strike rate of 27%. He has featured 19 times for the Galaxy this season. Giovanni dos Santos, 28, has played for Spurs, Barcelona, Galatasaray, and Villarreal before moving to Los Angeles. Although listed as a midfielder in the last match, he is truly a withdrawn centre-forward playing in the number 10 role with kit number to match. He has played for LA 52 times scoring 23 goals. dos Santos has 95 caps and 18 goals for Mexico. At any given time, one of the most dangerous strikers on the pitch. Boateng, 23, is a Ghanian national developed by Right to Dream Academy, the Cate School, and UC Santa Barbara (NCAA). He played nearly 40 matches for Helsingborgs IF in Sweden, moving to Avalon Boulevard in 2016. Since then he’s played 46 times for the Galaxy scoring four goals. It is possible, with so much reportedly at stake in this match, that Schmid will select Zardes, 25, over Boateng for reasons of both pedigree and experience. Zardes has 119 appearances for the Galaxy, scoring 32 goals. He also has 37 goals and six caps for United States and was a part of their Gold Cup winning squad this week, playing in the final match this Wednesday.
Forward – With McBean out this match due to suspension, Simon Borg of MLS.com, predicts that Ariel Lassiter, 22, Son of former USA international and record MLS league goal scorer, Roy Lassiter, will start as the target striker for the Galaxy. The younger Lassiter has played only 10 times for Los Angeles in his career scoring a single goal. I believe that Schmid will select a much more experienced striker for the same reasons we expect Zardes to play over Boateng. I predict he will select Jonathan dos Santos, 27, Giovanni’s younger brother. Recently arrived in Carson from Villarreal this month, the Mexican national has played 81 times for Barcelona reserves, 14 times in the Barca first team, and 87 times for Villarreal. He has yet to play in the LA first team. He has 27 caps for Mexico.
LA defender Daniel Steres was with the Sounders in 2012 but never played for the first team.
Los Angeles from: Rowe, Kempin, Diop, van Anholt, Cole, Steres, Smith, Diallo, Arellano, Van Damme, Alessandrini, Joao Pedro, Jermaine Jones, Jaime Villarreal, Garcia, Mendiola, Jonathan dos Santos, Giovanni dos Santos, Zardes, Lassiter, McInerney, Boateng, Jose Villareal, Jamieson IV.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Evans, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam, Torres, Joevin Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Roldan, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Mansaray.
Los Angeles –
OUT: Rogers (ankle), Lletget (foot), Husidic (broken leg), Romney (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Alonso (MCL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
Los Angeles: McBean (Disciplinary Committee Decision).
Sounders FC: None suspended.
Tied for second on the Sounders’ all-time goal scoring list against LA, is…wait for it…the other team! You just read that correctly. One of the second highest goal scorers for the Sounders in their all-time series against the LA Galaxy is the LA Galaxy themselves. To top that, both own goals occurred in our last two meetings. So, Mr. Van Damme, Mr. Cole, you have our thanks. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, good day!