CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy need three points in this weekend's Western Conference showdown with Seattle if they want a real shot at the Supporters' Shield and No. 1 seed for the playoffs, but they're not really thinking in those terms.
With the playoff race so tight, and the Galaxy sitting fourth in the West, home points are a must if they're even going to make it to the postseason, and they know it will be a tall task to take down the streaking Sounders on Saturday night at the StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN).
LA (13-10-5) aren't sure Landon Donovan will be available – Bruce Arena on Thursday said the Galaxy were “planning” on his participation, but he hasn't trained fully since spraining his left ankle last weekend – and will be without defender A.J. DeLaGarza, but they've got ample confidence they'll succeed.
“If we can play half as well as we did against them [in a comprehensive 4-0 romp in late May], we've got every chance to win this game,” captain Robbie Keane said. “Don't forget: We're still the best team in this league, even though it's not showing [in the results]. I still think we're the best team in this league, so it's up to them to come here and get the points.”
The Sounders (15-8-4), on top of both the Western and Shield races, have taken nearly all of the points in the past two months, posting eight victories in their last nine games – and winning their last five, four of them by shutout.
The Galaxy are impressed.
“They're not letting the other team score,” said Arena, whose team has lost 15 points this year by conceding 19 goals from the 75th minute on. “I haven't followed that closely, [but] they get a goal and they can close the other team down.”
Center back Omar Gonzalez notes that the Sounders have been particularly good since bringing in his US teammate Clint Dempsey (pictured at right), who has played in five games – four of them victories – but is still looking for his first goal with Seattle.
“They've been really turning it around, and they've had a couple of games in hand for a while, and they've turned those games into wins and now they've leapfrogged into first place,” Gonzalez said. “I think they've been playing really great since the addition of Clint. They've been on a roll, and it seems like no one can stop them right now.”
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Dempsey, he said, “adds more creativity in the final third. I've seen him play a couple times now, and he's always doing his tricks, and he's taking care of two [defenders'] attention, and then once he does that, [Mauro] Rosales is making runs, Eddie [Johnson] is making runs, [Lamar] Neagle, [Obafemi] Martins. Just naming those guys, you can already tell they're a big threat in the final third.”
The Galaxy are five points back and have played one more game than Seattle has. They're closer to being out of the playoffs than in the top spot.
“At this point, the ultimate goal is to be in the top three, and anything above that is just icing on the cake,” said defender Todd Dunivant. “That's what we're looking at, and we want to be in form heading into the playoffs, and Seattle ... without a doubt, I think we're going to have to face them if we want to make it through the West.”