SEATTLE – The LA Galaxy know what occurred when Real Salt Lake came to Seattle with a 3-0 lead in last year's MLS Cup playoffs and barely survived. They don't plan on making the same mistakes.
The Galaxy head into Sunday's second leg in the Western Conference Championship against the Sounders at CenturyLink Field (9 pm ET, ESPN, TSN2/RDS2 in Canada, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) looking to build on their three-goal advantage. They want more goals. Their personality demands it.
“I didn't grow up a defender, so I'm not going there to defend for 90 minutes,” captain Landon Donovan said. “I'm going there to do my part to help us defend, but I'm going there to score goals and make plays, and Robbie [Keane]'s the same, Mike Magee's the same, David [Beckham]'s the same, even guys like Juninho's the same, Christian Wilhelmsson's the same. That's our mentality.”
RSL weathered a 26-shot onslaught by the Sounders in the second leg of last year's Western Conference Semifinals, hanging on for a 3-2 aggregate victory, but their approach – sit back, defend and ride out 90 minutes – is foreign to LA, who would love nothing more than to crush Seattle's spirit with an early goal or two, something their counterattack is quite capable of doing.
“I don't think we can [sit back and defend] – well, we can do it, but with the players we have, we have players who like to attack,” said forward Robbie Keane, who scored twice in last weekend's 3-0 triumph at the Home Depot Center. “Obviously, we have to be very cautious, but at the same time, we have to stick to the way we've been playing all season, because that's what's got us this far so far.”
The Scouting Report: Seattle vs. LA
LA know how dangerous the Sounders can be, and they don't want to provide opportunities that can be exploited and potentially turn a one-sided series into a real battle.
“If we go in there with our tail between our legs and just trying to hold on and trying to survive, we'll be in trouble,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “I think Salt Lake did that last year and barely got out of there. ...
“We don't want them to barrage us and be hitting us from all sides, because they have good players and too many good guys in the box with [Fredy] Montero and Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans, and if they get [Mauro] Rosales back – which they probably will – he's so good with service. If we let him have free reign, it's going to be a long night.”
Said Donovan: “We know what the game is going to look like. It's very clear that if we don't do a good job of putting them back on their heels and attacking them, that it can be wave after wave of attacks against us. And when that happens, they have a number of very talented players that can make plays and it's going to be a dangerous game.
"We don't want to fall into that. We don't want a game where we're giving up 30 shots like Salt Lake did last year and squeaking our way through. We want to take the initiative, put them on the back foot a little bit, and we think we have the quality to do that."