by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Los Angeles Galaxy make the trip north to meet our Sounders at Royal Brougham Park in the Evergreen at 6:00 p.m. PDT. At stake, three points in the league and a chance for the Sounders to go unbeaten in the season series, as our boys in Green have already amassed a win and a draw in two previous meetings.
There are only seven matches left in the league schedule for Seattle. As it’s unlikely that Toronto FC (17 points clear of us at the top) will drop its last six matches, and maybe unlikely that our Sounders will win out in their last seven, winning the league is not a very likely prospect. As we crashed out of the US Open Cup in the 5th round, it’s not possible for us to win that trophy either. The MLS Cup though is very much in range should our form hold and our players stay healthy.
Intangibles for this match include the first return of former manager Sigi Schmid to Royal Brougham Park since his sacking last summer, and which of our international players may be too fatigued to play a major role.
The Good News
The Sounders are still riding high at 6th position in the league table. Our opponents from the Southland remain struggling in 20th position, two places from bottom. The Sounders are still riding their 11-match unbeaten streak, and have not lost in the league since mid-June. Los Angeles, in comparison, have won only once and drawn once in their last 11 contests, including the 0:0 draw they held us to at Avalon Boulevard near the end of July.
The Sounders are unbeaten against the Galaxy and have only lost one match at home this season. Again in stark relief, Los Angeles have only won five matches on the road this season in 12 attempts (5-1-6). The Galaxy have only managed four wins all-time at Royal Brougham Park in the 11 matches they’ve played here.
Against common opponents, we have earned 41 points in the league, compared to LA’s 25.
Los Angeles have had trouble keeping the football out of their net, and concede nearly two goals a match. The Sounders are only conceding at a rate closer to 1.3 goals/match. Although no one wins matches in real football by fractions of goals, the metrics point to Seattle being far more likely to score two goals, than their opponents from Southern California.
With the entire Sounders’ squad, save for Evans and possibly Shipp, healthy, we should be in good shape to send Los Angeles packing in what will seem like the longest flight to LAX ever, providing far too much time for suffering and self-reflection.
The Bad News
Although our form places us in rarified company in the league, we haven’t managed a victory since August 20th against Minnesota United. In contrast, Los Angeles won their last match, shutting out Colorado 3:0.
Sounders left back, Nouhou Tolo, got himself sent off last week against the Treecutters and will be out this match. Normally this wouldn’t be a factor, as Joevin Jones would simply start at left back as he normally would like ye do. This pulls Joevin’s recent situation into a rather harsh light. Joevin left the club without permission to join Trinidad & Tobago. This shortly after the club announcing that Jones elected to move to German side Darmstadt 98 on a free transfer at the end of this season when his contract ends with Seattle, rather than renewing with the Sounders. During the FIFA window for World Cup qualifiers that just ended recently, he played the bulk of both qualifiers for the Soca Warriors. This means he is likely fatigued, and even if he weren’t, it’s entirely possible that Sounders’ Manager, Brian Schmetzer would pass him over for selection, as such lapses in discipline tend to leave a player out of favour. These events beg the question, who will start at left back for the Sounders tonight? Fisher? Alfaro? This is exactly the type of uncertainty we didn’t need at a stage in the season where consistency is a key factor in the run-up to the MLS Cup tournament.
Both Dempsey and Morris went the full 90 minutes in the Yanks’ lacklustre draw in San Pedro Sula. Roman Torres also played 80 minutes in Trinidad for his Panamanian side. These three men are key players in the Sounders’ team. Will any of them have the constitution to play a role in tonight’s match? You would expect to see Neagle play in Morris’ spot on the wing (perhaps even Rodriguez or Kovar), with Bruin starting in place of Dempsey up top. Both are capable and experienced, so we are probably in safe hands. You would imagine Torres place in the team will see Svensson deputise for him at centre-half. Svensson has played in this position several times this season, often with fine results. There’s probably nothing to worry about. However then, why am I kind of worried?
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Kempin, 24, was between the pipes for LA eight days ago. The result was a 3:0 shutout of Colorado. It would be a hard manager, indeed, who would leave out a ‘keeper after a clean sheet. Kempin is light on experience with 56 matches as a professional. Only 11 of those were MLS contests. Rowe, 28, is the experienced alternative.
Diallo, 27, is a French national developed by Olympique Marseille. He never played for Marseille and amassed only 25 matches of first team football in Europe at Oldham in England, and RWS Bruxelles in Belgium. After five years of scraping for first team football, he moved to Avalon Boulevard in 2014 playing nearly 50 times for LA Galaxy II, and playing 14 matches with the first team this season.
Steres, 26, is a domestic player, developed by San Diego State (NCAA). He’s played 106 matches as a professional. 51 matches with the Galaxy’s first team since moving to LA in 2014.
Romney, 24, is a domestic footballer, developed by University of San Fransisco (NCAA). He has played 36 times for the first team in LA. He has 60 matches of experience as a professional.
Cole, 36, needs no introduction. Cole played nearly 400 matches of top-flight English football, mostly with Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC. He moved to Avalon Boulevard in 2016 and has played nearly 50 times for the Galaxy. Cole was capped 107 times for England before his retirement from international football in 2014.
Jermaine Jones, 35, is a German-born United States international. He was developed by Eintracht Frankfurt. He played over 264 matches in German football, 129 times for Schalke 04. This was followed by short spells at Blackburn and Besiktas. Jones moved to New England Revolution playing 28 times there. Then a move to Colorado where he played nine matches, before his most recent move to the Southland for the 2017 season. He’s played 14 times for LA since his move from the Rockies. Jones has 69 caps and four goals for the Yanks.
Joao Pedro, 24, is a Portuguese national produced by Vitoria Guimaraes. Pedro played 118 times for the Vitoria reserves over a four year period. He would later play 21 times in the Vitoria senior team before moving to Los Angeles in 2017. He has played 25 times in his maiden season for the Galaxy.
Alessandrini, 28, is a French national developed by Marseille and Gueugnon. The Galaxy’s new winger moved to LA this year after a nine-year career in French football that exceeded 200 matches. Alessandrini was once worth €5 million to Marseille, who purchased him for that sum from Rennes in 2014. He has played 23 times in the LA first team this season.
Jonathon dos Santos, 27, is a Mexican national developed by FC Barcelona. dos Santos has played 81 times for Barcelona reserves, 14 times for the Barca first team, and 87 times for Villarreal. The sum total of his matches in first-team Spanish football is 101. dos Santos moved to LA in the summer transfer window to play with older brother, Giovani. Jonathon has played four times for the Galaxy since his summer move. dos Santos has played 27 times for Mexico since 2009. Although Bradford Jamieson IV played in the withdrawn centre-forward slot last match, I would imagine Jonathon or his brother will replace him for a high-visibility match in Seattle.
Boateng, 23, is a Ghanian national developed by Right to Dream Academy, Cate School, and UC Santa Barbara (NCAA). A notable career highlight is the 37 matches he played for Helsingborgs IF in Sweden from 2013-16. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, Boateng has played 52 times for the Galaxy.
Giovani dos Santos, 28, is a Mexican national produced by Barcelona. Giovani played 27 times for Barca reserves and 28 times for the first team. He then moved to Spurs which was the start of several short spells at Ipswich, Galatasaray and Racing Santander. In 2012, Gio moved to Mallorca and found 29 matches of first team football there. This was followed by a move to Villareal where he played 58 times and scored 12 goals. He then moved to LA in 2015 and has since played 54 times for the Galaxy. Gio has 100 caps and 19 goals for Mexico. Although Zardes started as the lone forward last match. I believe that LA manager Sigi Schmid will play Gio along with his brother Jonathan where they may interchange between the striker and withdrawn centre-forward roles. It is also possible Zardes will play in favour of Boateng and will move Gio to the withdrawn centre-forward role, and move his brother to the wing.
LA defender Steres was selected by the Sounders in the 2012 MLS Waiver Draft. He never played for the Sounders’ first team.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam, Torres, Joevin Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Mallace, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Neagle.
Los Angeles from: Rowe, Diop, Kempin, Cole, Romney, Steres, Smith, Diallo, Arellano, Ciani, Alessandrini, Jonathan dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, Jaime Villarreal, Garcia, Mendiola, Joao Pedro, Giovani dos Santos, Zardes, Lassiter, McInerney, Boateng, McBean, Jose Villarreal, Jamieson IV.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Shipp (ankle).
Los Angeles –
OUT: Rogers (ankle), Lletget (foot), Husidic (broken leg), van Anholt (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
Sounders FC: Nouhou (Sent Off).
Los Angeles: none suspended. One booking away from suspension: Alessandrini, Jermaine Jones.
Wondering why Los Angeles defender, Jelle Van Damme, 32, isn’t in the team for Los Angeles? As it turns out, Los Angeles sold him in the transfer window to Royal Antwerp FC of Belgium for a smidge over £178,000 ($235,000 or a bit over €195,000). Who says MLS players have no resale value?