LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders | 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP, LEG 1
LA GALAXY VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
5 pm ET, Sunday, November 23
TV: ESPN | WatchESPN | ESPN Deportes
It was almost preordained: The two best teams in MLS, superstar-laden squads who fought down to the wire for the Supporters' Shield, square off for a chance to play in the MLS Cup final. The Seattle Sounders took the Shield on the last day of the season, but they've made it clear their biggest target is the Cup. To accomplish that, they always knew they'd have to go through their nemeses, the LA Galaxy, who will host the first battle between these two powerhouses in this year's MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott.
AR1 (bench): Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite): Greg Barkey;
4th: Ricardo Salazar
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): LA: Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers ... SEA: Leo Gonzalez
- Setting a course for the treble: Top 5 Sounders moments of 2014
- Tactical preview of the first leg between LA and Seattle | Armchair Analyst
- Heartbreaking to record-breaking: LA's top 5 moments of 2014
- WATCH: Are you ready for an "absolute battle" on Sunday?
- WATCH: Answering fan questions on the matchup
- Position by position: Who's got the edge?
- WATCH: LA's Donovan hopes Seattle's Alonso is ready to go
- WATCH: Series boasts forward combinations straight out of a video game
- LA bring 20-game home unbeaten streak into Conference Championship
- WATCH: Game-changers for Galaxy | Sounders
- Galaxy welcome DeLaGarza, Keane back from international duty
- WATCH: Donovan, Martins break down Leg 1
- WATCH: The history of a powerhouse rivalry
- Five most memorable matches in LA-Seattle history
- #LAvSEA: Tale of the Tape
- Officiating crew named for LA-Seattle
- No more tributes: Landon Donovan focuses on the present
- Galaxy not worried about Zardes mini-slump
- Sounders owner: Improved chemistry key to 2014 success
- Injured Ozzie Alonso uncertain about fitness for Leg 1
- Galaxy know fans want offense in Sounders showdown, but they may not get it
- Donovan's Other Legacy: Challenging the stigma of mental health | THE WORD
- Sounders "very happy" with progress of injured Alonso, but status still uncertain
- Seattle have the Shield, but Galaxy hold playoff edge
LA 6 wins, 21 goals ... SEA 4 wins, 16 goals ... Ties 5
2014 HEAD-TO-HEAD: SEA 1 win, 4 goals ... LA 1 win, 5 goals ... Ties 1
AT STUBHUB CENTER:
10/19: LA 2, SEA 2 (Husidic 46+; Sarvas 50 - Dempsey 69; Neagle 72)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: LA 3 wins, 7 goals ... SEA 1 win, 3 goals ... Ties 0
- The Galaxy’s 5-0 win in the second leg matched the third-highest offensive output in a postseason game in MLS history, and was the highest since the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Galaxy 5-2 in extra time in 2003. Of the eight times in MLS history a team has scored five or more goals in a postseason game, the Galaxy have done it four times.
- "We had three goals out of the midfield out of [Marcelo] Sarvas and Landon [Donovan]. Defensively we were pretty solid. I think they had one really quality chance off that corner kick," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "I don't think there were too many out of the run of play. The entire team defended well on the night."
- Landon Donovan became the third player in MLS Cup Playoffs history to score a hat trick, the first since Stern John did it for Columbus in 1999 (also: Ra˙l Diaz Arce in 1996). Donovan is the all-time leader in postseason goals with 25 in 38 games; he is also the all-time league goalscoring leader with 144 goals (in 334 appearances).
- "We were talking about not scoring a lot of goals in the last few games, and there was a lot of reasons for that. But when our team is together and we know we have this to play for, then we're going to play well," Donovan said.
- For the second leg, Leonardo returned to the lineup in central defense, with A.J. DeLaGarza shifting to right back in place of Dan Gargan. "Leonardo has played very well for us. He makes a good combination with Omar [Gonzalez] and A.J. [DeLaGarza] plays very well on the right side of the field. I thought the timing was right to try that group in the back," said Arena.
- Stefan Ishikazi also came into the team, in place of Baggio Husidic on the right of midfield. "Between [Ishikazi] and Baggio [Husidic], they've been excellent all year. When one starts, the other comes in and does well, and when the other starts, the other comes in and does well," Donovan said. " ... It's good to have a lot of options and it's going to help us going forward."
- The Galaxy have not allowed a goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs, with back-to-back shutouts in the postseason for the first time since 2009. "I think we know what to expect, and we know what we need to do: Work as hard as we did against Salt Lake and just try to make it really tough for them to play, try to spread their team, keep width on the field, stretch their team and try to keep possession because they're not really good when they have to defend a whole lot. They're better on attack," said Ishikazi.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
- During the regular season, Sounders FC conceded the most goals of any team in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They became the first team in MLS history to advance through the away goals tiebreaker instituted this season following the scoreless draw in the second leg.
- "Being able to defend well is an important part of winning a championship. I know all through the season people have been saying ëwell do they have a good enough defense to win?' And I think we have proven over the past three or four weeks that we can play good enough defense for sure," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.
- It is the second time in their history Sounders FC have reached the Western Conference Championship. The first came in 2012 - when they fell to the Galaxy with a trip to MLS Cup on the line.
- "We also know that we can play them, and even if we're down we can come back. With LA I know there is going to be more opportunities with Clint and Oba, and there are going to be more chances just because the way they play," said Schmid.
- There is a real injury concern for Sounders FC after Osvaldo Alonso was forced off early in the second half with a hamstring injury. "He's been there from day one for the Sounders," forward Lamar Neagle said. "He's been one of those guys that's played almost every single game [since he's been in Seattle]. ... Obviously, defensively he does a lot of work and he's kind of our engine in the middle."
- Micheal Azira came into Alonso's position in central midfield, his second consecutive substitute appearance. "[Azira] came in with a calm head and just went out there and just basically went about his business," Schmid said. "I never worry about Mike. I never worry that he's going to panic or be overwhelmed by the situation. He's a good, solid character."
- Sounders FC were held without a goal for just the second time since early August. "I thought we had some good looks and we just missed a little bit on our shots, but that'll come. If you're creating chances, that's what you're happy about as a coach. If you're not creating any chances, then you worry, but I was thinking we were creating chances so I was pleased," Schmid said.