LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders
2017 MLS Regular Season
StubHub Center – Carson, California
Sunday, April 23 | 4 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA) | TSN5 (Canada)
Two of the West’s marquee teams are set to meet for the first time in 2017 on Sunday afternoon, though both have some early-season questions to answer, especially in the case of the LA Galaxy.
Curt Onalfo’s men return home after a 2-1 loss in Orlando that continued their four-year run of futility on the East Coast. They have dropped two of their three road games so far this year, both against in-conference opposition, which is an easy recipe for missing the playoffs if the trend continues. This Sunday, they'll get a good measure of where they stack up in the West against the defending champion Seattle Sounders.
One key to keeping the Galaxy's worrying home start from becoming a full-blown crisis will likely be the play of marquee offseason acquisition Romain Alessandrini, who has started the season with four goals and two assists in six games. If Alessandrini’s inspired play can rub off on the rest of his attacking teammates, Galaxy fans shouldn’t have to worry for too much longer – especially if he keeps improving, as Curt Onalfo said after his influential performance in LA's lone home win of the season.
“Alessandrini is exactly what we thought he would be,” Onalfo said after the Galaxy topped Montreal 2-0 earlier this month. “He’s a great player. ... But he’s going to keep getting better.”
The Sounders are not in quite as dire straits as their opponents on Sunday, and certainly not as bad as they were at this time last year. Still, the Sounders are searching for some attacking solutions as they look to get a potent front four on paper clicking on the field.
Looking for some more firepower in front of goal, the Galaxy this week signed forward Jack McInerney, the 25-year-old with 43 MLS goals to his name already. He’s unlikely to be a regular starter, but could serve as a potent weapon off the bench. Considering his lack of playing time in 2017, his status for the Sounders clash is TBD.
The other lineup question to keep an eye on this weekend will be the status of goalkeeper Clement Diop, who was injured making a second-half stop against Orlando and "is in a tough spot physically," according to Onalfo. If he can’t go against Seattle, Brian Rowe – last year’s starter – will likely be the man called upon to fill in.
- Suspended: M Jaime Villarreal (USL suspension)
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – D Robbie Rogers (ankle injury), M Sebastian Lletget (foot surgery 3/24); TBD – GK Clement Diop (hip injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2): Brian Rowe – Nathan Smith, Daniel Steres, Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole – Romain Alessandrini, Joao Pedro, Jermaine Jones, Emmanuel Boateng – Giovani dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes
Notes: Alessandrini leads the league with 27 total shots. He is one of three players in the league to have at least 10 shots on target so far this season. … The Galaxy’s 2-0 win over Montreal two weeks ago snapped a two-game home losing streak. The Galaxy last lost consecutive home games in May 2012.
The Sounders have had to make do without two key defenders in Brad Evans and Roman Torres, but are in a fairly comfortable spot injury-wise further up the field. For now, their worry will not be about who's missing, but rather about turning what they perceive as positive play into wins after picking up just one victory in their first six.
“We’ve had a tough stretch of games against some really tough opponents, but we’ve actually played quite well,” said Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei this week. “We’re doing all the hard work really well, now it’s more just time to reward ourselves and make that possession count, make that dominance count, get a couple of goals, and get a result because that’s all that really matters.”
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – D Brad Evans (calf muscle strain), M Aaron Kovar (groin surgery), D Roman Torres (left hamstring strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei – Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones – Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan – Nicolas Loderio, Clint Dempsey, Harry Shipp – Jordan Morris
Notes: Following last weekend’s defeat in Vancouver, Seattle are winless in their last five away regular season games (3L-2D). All three of the losses came by a 2-1 scoreline. … Seattle average 8.7 fouls conceded per game so far this year, the lowest average of any MLS team.
The Galaxy enjoy an overall advantage in this series, and went 2-1-1 in all competitions against Seattle in 2016. However, that lone loss came at the StubHub Center in their most recent meeting, when Seattle posted a 4-2 win Sept. 25, one of the signature wins in their remarkable turnaround and run to MLS Cup glory. That win snapped an eight-game regular-season away winless streak to the Galaxy (5L-3D).
- Overall: LA Galaxy 9 wins (30 goals) … Seattle 5 wins (23 goals) … Ties 7
- At LA: LA Galaxy 5 wins (17 goals) … Seattle 2 wins (11 goals) … Ties 3
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo