MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (15-7-11, 56 points, 2nd, MLS West) at Los Angeles Galaxy (15-12-6, 51 points, 4th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Sunday, 6 p.m. Home Depot Center, Carson, CA. MEETING: 9th (series tied 3-3-2). LAST 10: Sounders 5-1-4; Galaxy 5-2-3. TV: ESPN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders, riding a four-match unbeaten streak, play their final regular-season MLS game Sunday, against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The only stake for the playoff-bound teams is playoff seeding. No. 2 in MLS West, Seattle can still fall to third, which would impact whether the Sounders or Real Salt Lake get the second game at home in the two-match conference semifinal round.
A victory would give the Sounders 59 points, which could mean a top-three overall MLS finish. That would give the Sounders a better shot at hosting the MLS Cup, which for the first time is awarded to the participating team with the best record.
“Second place means we get the second game at home in that first series,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “Its also a point thing, where we want to win the Western Conference at the end (then) for example, Kansas City gets knocked off in the East. Our point total gives a chance to maybe host.
Probably the most important thing (Sunday) is for our guys to stay in rhythm. You dont want to go two weeks without playing a game if you can avoid it. Especially when other teams are playing.
Real Salt Lake had a slight edge over Seattle in regular season meetings, going 1-0-2, including a 1-0 win in May. The teams teams played two scoreless draws, including Oct. 17, with the asterisk that neither was at full strength after players were absent due to World Cup national-team commitments.
Los Angeles has locked up the fourth seed in the Western Conference with 51 points (15-12-6), and will face No. 5 Vancouver in a play-in game. After starting the season 3-8-2, the Galaxy has gone 12-4-4, which enabled L.A. to reach the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The Sounders and Galaxy have met twice this season, Seattle winning 2-0 May 2 and 4-0 Aug. 5.
Los Angeles ranks second in MLS with 58 goals and 1.76 goals per game, but 14th with a 1.42 goals against average. L.A. also ranks second in assists (60), shots on goal (175), and corner kicks (182).
The Galaxy tend to get on the board early, ranking first in MLS with 0.82 first half goals per game. L.A. is 14-2-4 when scoring first. However, the Galaxy have scored 31 of their 58 goals this season in the second half, including 27 in the final half hour.
Three designated players, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and David Beckham, lead Bruce Arena’s attack. The trio has combined for 95 points (32 goals, 31 assists). Keane is T3 in MLS with 16 goals and has added eight assists, while Donovan is second with 14 assists to go along with nine goals. Beckham has seven goals and nine assists, but has scored just once since July 18.
Midfielder Juninho, who leads with two goals against Seattle, has seven goals and four assists in 31 games. Sean Franklin (32 starts), A.J. DeLaGarza (30), and Todd Dunivant have manned the back line, while Omar Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year, has just 12 starts after suffering an ACL injury in January. However, the 24-year-old has started the last 11, helping the Galaxy to a 6-2-3 record over that span.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso. Forwards — Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
GALAXY PROBABLE LINEUPS: Goalkeeper — Josh Saunders. Defenders — Bryan Gaul, David Junior Lopes, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza. Midfielders — Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas, Sean Franklin. Forwards — Robbie Keane, Mike Magee.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out — FW Babayele Sodale (ACL tear), DF Andrew Duran (ACL surgery). Questionable — DF Leo Gonzalez (hamstring strain), Patrick Ianni (calf).
DISCIPLINARY SITUATION (Sounders): Suspended — Zach Scott; Montero and Alonso will be suspended after their next yellow cards.
LAST MLS MATCH (Sounders, Oct. 21): Brad Evans tallied twice and Mauro Rosales added a goal as the Sounders defeated FC Dallas 3-1 at CenturyLink Field in front of 38,755 fans. The Sounders moved into second. Sounders won without head coach Sigi Schmid, suspended for making critical comments about referee Ricardo Salazar.
LAST VS. GALAXY (Aug. 5): Eddie Johnson (6th minute), Fredy Montero (52nd), Alex Caskey (61st) and Andy Rose (88th) all scored goals as the Sounders routed the Galaxy 4-0, the most lopsided result for Seattle in the history of the rivalry. The Galaxy complained loudly after the match about the officiating. The match was witnessed by 60,908 at CenturyLink Field.
SERIES: Dates to May 10, 2009, a 1-1 tie in Seattle (Seattle goal by Sebastien Le Toux). Sounders and Galaxy are 3-3-2 all-time after Seattle defeated the Galaxy 4-0 Aug. 5. In eight meetings, Seattle has outscored L.A. 10-9. Seattle and Los Angeles have met several times outside of regular-season competition. The sides met in the first round of the 2010 MLS Cup playoffs, Seattle falling 3-1 over the two legs. Sides also met twice in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals with Seattle winning both meetings, 2-0 in the 2010 and 3-1 in 2011.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 15-7-11. Last 5: L-D-W-D-W. Home: 11-4-2. Road: 4-3-0. Vs. East: 4-1-4. Vs. West: 11-6-7. March: 2-1-0; April: 2-0-1; May: 3-2-2; June: 0-2-2; July: 2-0-2; August: 3-1-0; September: 2-1-4; October: 2-0-1. Goals For: 51. Goals Against: 32. Differential: +19.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 51 (5th). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.55 (5th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 0.97 (2nd). Shots: 421 (10th). Shots On Goal: 137 (T13). Fouls Committed: 432 (4th). Fouls Suffered: 426 (5th). Yellow Card Cautions: 52 (T10).
- Sounders 8-0-1 when leading at the half, 7-2-9 when tied at the half and 0-5-1 when trailing at the half.
- Sounders 14-0-3 when scoring first and 1-7-4 when conceding first.
- Sounders are one of three teams to qualify for playoffs each of the past four seasons (LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake).
- Sounders have played the most matches (173) across all competitions since entering MLS in 2009. The team will play 45 matches through the end of the 2012 regular season, second to Toronto FC (46).
- Sounders are on track for the best goals against average (0.97) in franchise history, set in the inaugural season when the team allowed 29 goals in 30 games.
- With the shutout of Real Salt Lake, Seattle has 12, breaking the franchise record (11) set in 2010.
- Three matches have ended in a scoreless draw for Sounders FC this season, two of which were against Real Salt Lake.
- Michael Gspurning leads MLS with a 0.72 goals against average, third-best in MLS history. No goalkeeper from outside of the CONCACAF region has led the league in single-season goals against average.
- Mauro Rosales ranks third with 13 assists and tied for first with five game-winning assists. Seattle improved to 8-0-4 when Rosales scores or assists.
- Eddie Johnson is T5 in the Budweiser Golden Boot Race with 14 goals and Fredy Montero is T7 with 13 goals.
- Sounders are 6-2-3 when Christian Tiffert plays, outscoring opponents 23-8.
- Seattle has not lost consecutive MLS games in 65 outings (33-12-20) — longest stretch in league history.
- Sounders are 11-2-1 all-time in October games, and 7-1-3 across all competitions in 2012 when on six or seven days rest.
- Seattle has the second fewest losses (7) in MLS this season.
- Sounders are 14-0-3 when scoring first. Seattle’s current 31-game unbeaten streak (25-0-6) when scoring first is the second-longest active streak in MLS (New York, 56).
- CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: With its 3-1 win over CD Marathon Wednesday, the Sounders have clinched the No. 3 seed in next March’s quarterfinal round. The Sounders finished the group stage undefeated for the first time in franchise history. The other undefeated teams are Monterrey and Santos Laguna. The Sounders play Mexican side Tigres UANL, which is seeded No. 6 in the two-leg series. The Sounders play the first game on the road between March 5-7 and host the second game between March 12-14. “Obviously you try to avoid a Mexican team if at all possible, but it is what it is,” said coach Sigi Schmid.
PLAYOFF TICKETS: Tickets for the Western Conference semifinals with Real Salt Lake will go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday. Tickets are available at www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets will be distributed via Ticketmaster’s TicketFast print at home service. The dates of the two-leg series will be determined after Sunday’s results.
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Alonso 29, Evans 28, Parke 28|
|Goals||Johnson 14, Montero 13, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 13, Montero 8, Caskey 4, Evans 4|
|Shots||Montero 119, Johnson 70, Alonso 38|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 45, Johnson 24, Evans 13, Alonso 13|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 60, Johnson 40, Alonso 35|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 66, Alonso 50, Johnson 46|
|Offsides||Johnson 34, Montero 20, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 73, Tiffert 29, Fernandez 16|
|Cautions||Alonso 7, Johnson 6, Montero 5|
|Ejections||Hurtado, Fernandez, Montero, Scott, 1|
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Bruce Arena: The reigning MLS Coach of the Year, and a three-time MLS Cup winner, Bruce Arena is in his fifth season. One of the most successful head coaches in MLS and U.S. National Team history, Arena led the Galaxy to their third MLS Cup last season, becoming the first coach in MLS league history to win three championships.
The all-time leader in wins among coaches in U.S. MNT history, Arena led the U.S. to the FIFA World Cup twice, including an historic quarterfinal berth in 2002 in Japan/Korea. Arena briefly coached at the University of Puget Sound in 1976.
COMING UP: The Sounders will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference playoffs for the second straight season. Last year, the Sounders fell behind 3-0 in the first leg, got two goals back at home, but fell 3-2 on aggregate. Seattle and RSL have met three times this year with just one goal combined in 270 minutes of action.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(15-7-11, 56 points, MLS; 4-0 CCL; 4-1 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||W||4-0||10-5-7|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||GolTV||L||2-1||4-1|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KONG||L||2-1||10-6-7|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||D||1-1||12-6-8|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||W||3-1||15-7-11|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup