CARSON, Calif. – When the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders met for the first time in 2011, the night was special as the teams kicked off the MLS season on March 15. Behind a goal by Juninho, the Galaxy won 1-0.
Galaxy players are hoping another special occasion will make for another similar result. Seattle will visit Home Depot Center on Monday as the Galaxy will once again host a match on Independence Day.
“Always on the Fourth of July, it’s special for us,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We almost always play at home and we want a special night as well.”
A Galaxy win or draw would help run the club’s unbeaten streak to 11 matches as their march to a second consecutive Supporters’ Shield would continue moving forward. Knocking off Seattle now, though, is no easy task. They have won three straight league matches and four of their last six. They have only one loss since May 4.
“They are playing very well at this moment, maybe better than any team in the league,” Donovan said. “We always play well against them but this time might be different.”
When the Galaxy faced Seattle in March, the result set the Sounders off on a difficult start to the season. After losing to the Galaxy, Seattle went on to lose at New York and tied games against Houston and at San Jose before finally winning a match on April 9 against Chicago.
The club lost Steve Zakuani to a devastating leg injury in April but aside from that notable exception, Galaxy coaches have not seen many differences between the Sounders in March versus the Sounders in June/July.
“They’re about the same team,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “They lost Zakuani so they don’t have the presence out on the flanks like they did. They’re still trying to find their way in the attacking end of the field, trying to figure out where [Fredy] Montero is going to play and how to help them, how to use [Alvaro] Fernandez and [Mauro] Rosales, [Erik] Friberg with [Osvaldo] Alonso. They’re mixing around their players.”
Like the Galaxy, Seattle have lots of weapons to keep the Galaxy on their toes. And although Montero is often seen as the key piece, there are other weapons the Galaxy are wary of.
“They are playing strong defensively but they have some players who can do special things,” Donovan said. “It starts with Montero of course, but [Nate] Jaqua is playing, now Roger Levesque is playing well, Rosales is playing well.”
Ultimately, though, the formula for success is within the Galaxy’s hands, no matter how strong Seattle comes into the game.
“It will be difficult,” Donovan said, “but we know that when we play well defensively, when we pass the ball around, we should always win.”