TUKWILA, Wash. – Games between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy used to be some of the most-anticipated heavyweight match-ups in MLS -- a legitimate Western Conference rivalry forged through years of high-stakes, star-studded regular season clashes and dramatic playoff battles.
This season, however, is a bit of a different story.
While the Sounders have retained their traditional post as a Western Conference contender, the Galaxy have faltered in 2017 and go into Sunday’s showdown (9 pm ET | FS1; MLS LIVE in Canada) between the sides at CenturyLink Field owning a 7-14-5 record that leaves LA well outside the postseason picture. Simply put, this iteration of Sounders-Galaxy is not the clash of titans that it once was.
Even so, Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso told reporters this week he doesn’t expect that reality to detract from the intensity when the clubs meet this weekend.
“The Galaxy, every time we play them, it doesn’t matter if they’re first, second or last on the table,” Alonso said at Seattle’s practice at Starfire Soccer Complex on Tuesday. “They’re going to come here to play good soccer. They have a good team, good players, so we’ve got to prepare for battle on Sunday.”
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer offered up a similar sentiment, noting the additional storylines that always come along with the fixtures. Historically, one those subplots was the match-up between former Sounders manager Sigi Schmid and previous Galaxy boss Bruce Arena – two of the league’s most successful and iconic coaches.
On Sunday, Schmid will return to CenturyLink for the first time since he departed Seattle halfway through last season and took over the Galaxy job halfway through this one.
“These are always good games,” Schmetzer said on Tuesday. “There’s always been the rivalry between the coaches. It’s a big game for a lot of reasons, it’s always one to mark on the calendar. The Galaxy -- maybe not this year -- but their regular season record or winning percentage from 2009 to now has been [one of the best]. So, it’s still a good rivalry, for sure.”
Seattle have already played LA twice this season. Both games took place at StubHub Center, with the Sounders notching a resounding 3-0 victory in their first matchup of the season back on April 23. The last fixture, however, was much more competitive. Neither side managed to crack the scoresheet in a 0-0 draw on July 30 in a match that marked Schmid’s first game in charge of the Galaxy following the firing of Curt Onalfo.
“The two games we had down at StubHub were obviously different. Different coaches, different play, different games,” Schmetzer said. “The last one, we were bit unfortunate not to score a goal. I think we put ourselves with good opportunities to score and away from home, you have to take that one chance you get in a game, you have to put that away.
“So, I think that just narrows the focus a little bit. At home, it’s similar. If you get on top of the Galaxy but let them hang around, then we’ll make it tough on ourselves.”