MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (15-8-4, 49 points, 1st, MLS West) at LA Galaxy (13-10-5, 44 points, 4th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m, StubHub Center, Carson, CA. MEETING: 11th (Galaxy leads 5-3-2, MLS). TV: NBCSN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders have produced a remarkable run. After spending 17 weeks out of the top five spots in the Western Conference, including seven weeks in eighth or ninth place, the club has jumped six notches in the standings since an Aug. 3 victory over FC Dallas, collecting 24 of a possible 27 points. Now it’s time to find out if the Sounders, having added Clint Dempsey, have what it takes to win the MLS Cup.
There’s no better gauge than playing the LA Galaxy, which has owned Seattle in recent matches, including last year’s Western Conference playoffs in which the Galaxy eliminated the Sounders in a two-match aggregate.
The sides tussle Saturday night at StubHub Center in Carson, CA, and the main question is whether Seattle’s Aug. 3 signing of Dempsey has drawn the Sounders level in talent with the Galaxy, who feature prolific goal scorer Robbie Keane and two of Dempsey’s U.S. National Team teammates, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez.
On May 26, before the trumpeted inking of Dempsey, the Sounders played the first of three against the Galaxy, also at the StubHub Center. Keane recorded a hat trick in a 4-0 LA win. In the last three matches across all competitions, LA has outscored Seattle 9-2.
Although Dempsey has yet to score for Seattle, the Sounders have reeled off five consecutive victories and sit in first place for the first time since March 23, 2012. The No. 1 ranking is the highest position Seattle has held this late in a season, and the club is the third in league history to erase a 15-point deficit to gain first overall.
Since Dempsey’s arrival, the Sounders sport a 7-1-0 mark, including 4-1-0 in the five matches Dempsey has played, even though he remains scoreless.
“That’s something we don’t need to worry about,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “His goals will come. If he saves all his goals for the playoffs, I’m okay with that, too. “He’ll get his goals.”
“They will come when they come,” Dempsey said. “All you can do is work hard and if I’m putting in a good shift every time that I’m on the field, that’s all that I can control.”
The Galaxy (13-10-5, 44 points) sit fourth in the West after a 2-2 road draw against D.C. United Saturday. The Galaxy is led by Keane, who has six goals and two assists in the past four games, and Donovan, who is two goals away from matching Jeff Cunningham’s league record of 134 career goals.
Keane, one of the league’s most prolific strikers, ranks in the top five this season with 13 goals (4th) and 11 assists (3rd) in 17 games. Arguably the most efficient attacker in MLS, his 0.78 goals per 90 minutes ranks second and his 0.66 assists per 90 ranks first. The 33-year-old has 31 goals and 21 assists in 49 games since joining the league late in 2011.
LA is among the best in the league at home, ( 9-2-2). The Sounders have won more road matches — five — than any MLS team. Seattle has lost seven times away from the Clink, including three administered by LA and Real Salt Lake (Sounders lost twice in Sandy, UT), teams Seattle can expect to see in the playoffs.
“The way our league is set up, to win an MLS Cup, you have to perform on the road as well,” Schmid said. “We’ve got a tough game coming up in Los Angeles and we know we still have some games in hand.”
The Sounders have only one significant injury, Osvaldo Alonso’s left abductor strain. He’s not expected to play, although the Sounders listed him among Saturday’s probable starters. Brad Evans also practiced this week for the first time since Aug. 31 (calf injury).
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Andy Rose, Marc Burch. Forwards — Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
GALAXY PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Jaime Penedo. Defenders — Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Sean Franklin. Midfielders –Gyasi Zardes, Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, Hector Jiminez. Forwards — Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture). Questionable, MF Osvaldo Alonso (left abductor strain), MF Mauro Rosales (AC joint sprain). Galaxy — Out, F Jack McBean (fractured left clavicle). SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — None. Galaxy — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — None; Galaxy — None.
SERIES: Dates to May 10, 2009, a 1-1 tie in Seattle (Seattle goal by Sebastien Le Toux). In nine regular-season meetings, LA has 14 goals to Seattle’s 10. Seattle and LA will play once more, Oct. 27 at CenturyLink Field. The entire stadium will be open.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 15-8-4. Last 5: W-W-W-W-W. Home: 10-1-3. Road: 5-7-1. Vs. East: 5-2-1. Vs. West: 10-6-3. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 2-2-1; August: 4-1-0; September: 3-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 37. Goals Against: 27. Differential: +10.
- MLS TEAM STATS: Goals: 37. Goals Scored Avg.: 1.37. Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.00. Shots: 316. Shots On Goal: 103. Fouls Committed: 348. Fouls Suffered: 345. Yellow Card Cautions: 37.
- 10-0-2 when leading at the half, 4-1-2 when tied at the half, 1-7-0 when trailing at the half.
- 13-0-2 when scoring first, 2-8-1 when conceding first.
- Seattle has been first overall in MLS on four occasions: March 19-April 4, 2009; March 25, 2010; March 23, 2012; Sept. 13, 2013-present.
- Seattle is the third team to erase a 15-point deficit to gain sole possession of first overall. The feat was previously accomplished by the MetroStars in 2000 and the Columbus Crew in 2009.
- MLS named Obafemi Martins its Player of the Week after he scored a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Martins is tied for first in MLS with five game-winning goals.
- Lamar Neagle has tallied a goal in three consecutive matches and now has eight, tied for the team lead with Martins.
- Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning has four shutouts in his past five outings. Gspurning is tied for the league lead in clean sheets, and ranks third with a 1.02 goals against average.
- With five straight wins, the Sounders have the longest win streak in MLS this season. Seattle’s 10 wins and 33 points at home both lead MLS.
- Seattle leads MLS with 15 wins and ranks second with 11 shutouts (club record for shutouts is 12, set last season).
- Saturday’s match will be the 17th between Seattle and LA across all competitions, tied for the most in club history.
- Mauro Rosales has 33 career assists and needs one to match Fredy Montero’s club record.
- The Sounders are unbeaten in 46 straight games (38-0-8) when scoring first.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gonzalez 24, Yedlin 23, Gspurning 23|
|Goals||Martins 8, Neagle 8, Johnson 7|
|Assists||Rosales 7, Evans 5, Martins 4, Neagle 3|
|Shots||Neagle 49, Johnson 39, Martins 37|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 20, Neagle 20, Martins 16|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 43, Neagle 39, Gonzalez 29|
|Fouls Suffered||Rosales 36, Johnson 32, Alonso 32|
|Offsides||Johnson 29, Neagle 10, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 79, Burch 21, Neagle 16|
|Cautions||Johnson 6, Traore 5, Hurtado 4, Gonzalez 4|
|Ejections||7 tied with 1 each|
COMING UP: Sounders return to CenturyLink Sept. 29 to host the New York Red Bulls. Seattle will play four of its final seven away from CenturyLink Field.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(15-8-4, 49 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-1-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-2-1|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||L||4-0||4-4-3|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||L||1-0||7-7-3|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup