But despite all that potential for drama, the game itself fizzled, as the two Western Conference powers labored to a 0-0 draw at StubHub Center on Saturday night.
The two sides took 30 shots combined, but just six of them (four for LA, two for Seattle) found the target. Stars Romain Alessandrini and Clint Dempsey were lively, but neither could inspire their teams to victory. Meanwhile Galaxy All-Star Jelle Van Damme was sent off in the late going for a rash tackle on Nicolas Lodeiro that earned him a second yellow card.
- START SOMEWHERE: Saturday's affair won't live long in the memory. But for a team mired in a slump like LA's, a clean sheet (their first since June 3 and just their fourth of the year) is a welcome sight. Coming into this game, the Galaxy had conceded 14 goals in a five-game losing skid, and had taken just one league win since the start of June. Schmid will likely prioritize the contruction of a sturdy defensive foundation in the days ahead.
- VAN DAMME-D: Having said all that, LA must be troubled by the spotty play of Van Damme, the man expected to be the team's defensive anchor. The Belgian earned his league-leading third ejection of the year, and could well have earned a straight red for the lunge on Lodeiro. He'll head to Chicago to take on Real Madrid as a member of the 2017 MLS All-Star Team, but isn't doing so in peak form.
- STURDY IN SEATTLE: It wasn't an outstanding performance from the Sounders. But their unbeaten run now extends to six games, and conversely to LA, they've only lost once in MLS play since June began. Box-to-box midfielder Cristian Roldan showed quality and consistency on his SoCal homecoming, suggesting that his US national team experience at the Gold Cup gave a dose of motivation:
They Said It
"Coming into it, the team had taken a lot of goals in the last series of games, so we wanted to make sure we stopped that, for one." – Sigi Schmid, in his postgame interview with ESPN's Julie Stewart-Binks