LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2017 MLS Regular Season - Week 21
StubHub Center - Carson, Calif.
Saturday, July 29 – 10 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN, ESPN Deportes in USA; MLS LIVE in Canada
When the Seattle Sounders let Sigi Schmid go last year after eight memorable seasons in charge, few probably would have predicted a scenario where nearly a year to the day (he was fired July 26, 2016), Schmid would be facing the Sounders at the helm of one of their hated rivals, the LA Galaxy.
After Schmid replaced the ousted Curt Onalfo in midweek, Saturday night's nationally televised match between the two Western giants took on new meaning. Add to the mix the Galaxy's jaw-dropping five-match losing streak and their home record at StubHub Center (1W-6L-3D), which qualifies as the worst in MLS, and you can see why they're calling the match against the defending MLS Cup champion Sounders (8W-7L-6D, 30pts; 5th place in West) a "must-win" in Galaxy camp.
The all-time winningest coach in MLS will have his work cut out for him to help dig the Galaxy out of their hole (6W-10L-4D, 22pts; 9th place in West) with the regular season schedule offering up Seattle, Portland (away), NYCFC and Atlanta United (away) over their next four matches.
Schmid's first order of business will be to address the club's team defense which has let up 37 goals in the first 20 league matches of the season (they conceded 39 goals across the entire 2016 regular season).
Although the back line may assume the brunt of the criticism, the defenders have been receiving little help from the players in front of them. That should be addressed in due time once new arrival Jonathan Dos Santos is fit and ready to patrol central midfield.
- Suspended: FW Jack McBean (Disciplinary Committee decision)
- Suspended next yellow card: DF Jelle Van Damme, DF Bradley Diallo
- International duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT — DF Dave Romney (hamstring), MF Baggio Husidic (fractured fibula), MF Sebastian Lletget (foot surgery), DF Robbie Rogers (ankle injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, right to left): Brian Rowe — Bradley Diallo, Daniel Steres, Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole — Gyasi Zardes, Rafa Garcia, Jermaine Jones, Romain Alessandrini — Giovani Dos Santos, Ariel Lassiter
Notes: One would imagine that Schmid will attempt to keep things simple for the Galaxy to start, with an emphasis on balance and solidity. The most interesting decision he faces is whether to line up the hard-working Gyasi Zardes at the wide right position in order to contain the advances of dangerous Seattle left back Joevin Jones. That move would allow for Emmanuel Boateng to provide a spark off the bench, if necessary ... Also, will the hard-nosed Rafa Garcia get the nod ahead of Joao Pedro in central midfield with the looming arrival of Jonathan Dos Santos?
- Schmid lays out near-term goals for Galaxy
- LA Galaxy secure their No. 1 target: Jonathan Dos Santos
- Players admit it's "crunch time" for Galaxy
- Schmid shares timetable for integrating Jonathan Dos Santos
- "First to Five" night at StubHub Center, featuring five club legends
Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders are back to looking like the defending MLS Cup champions, winning three in a row and going unbeaten in their last five matches. They'll be looking to close out the month of July with a perfect record despite seeing their stars miss time at various points: Osvaldo Alonso (injury), Cristian Roldan (USMNT), Jordan Morris (USMNT), Clint Dempsey (USMNT) and Nicolas Lodeiro (suspension).
In addition to the fine form of center mid Cristian Roldan and left back Joevin Jones, the new acquisitions of 2017 have helped carry the load of late with goal-scorer Will Bruin, all-purpose player Gustav Svensson and fullbacks Kevin Leerdam and Nouhou Tolo providing energetic performances.
- Suspended: None
- Suspended next yellow card: None
- International duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT — MF Osvaldo Alonso (right knee sprain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Stefan Frei — Kevin Leerdam, Román Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones — Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan — Brad Evans, Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro — Will Bruin
Notes: So who does Brian Schmetzer decide to start at right back? Kevin Leerdam and Brad Evans are both viable options (Jamaican international Oniel Fisher was given the day off on Friday). What could help the logjam is that the Sounders manager may decide to give a breather to one of Clint Dempsey or Jordan Morris, who both represented the USA at the recently concluded Gold Cup. That would open up a spot in midfield that Brad Evans could slot into.
- Brad Evans: "It would be nice to beat Sigi"
- Sounders coach Schmetzer reflects on first year on the job
- Joevin Jones on a historic assist pace
- Watch: Brian Schmetzer previews matchup vs. Galaxy
- Why July is the craziest month in Sounders history
- Scouting Report: Why Cristian Roldan is surging for the Sounders
Saturday night is the second of three meetings in 2017. The Sounders handed the Galaxy a 3-0 home loss back on April 23. They meet for the final time in 2017 on Sunday, Sept. 10 in Seattle (9 pm ET on FS1 and FOX Deportes).
It's worth highlighting that the Galaxy have dropped two straight home games to Seattle and have been outscored 7-2 in those matches.
- All-Time (22 regular season matches): LA Galaxy 9W-6L-7D (30 GF / 26 GA); Seattle 6W-9L-7D (26 GF / 30 GA)
- In LA (11 regular season matches): LA Galaxy 5W-3L-3D (17 GF / 14 GA); Seattle 3W-5L-3D (14 GF / 17 GA)
Note: The clubs have also met seven times in the MLS postseason with LA holding a 4W-3L-0D record. There have been four head-to-head playoff showdowns in the last seven years: 2010 (LA won 3-1 on aggregate), 2012 (LA won 4-2 on aggregate), 2014 (2-2 on aggregate, LA advance on away goals), and 2015 (Seattle win Knockout Round match 3-2) ... LA and Seattle have also faced off in the US Open Cup three times since the Sounders joined the league, each occasion coming in the quarterfinal stage. The Sounders won in 2010 (2-0) and 2011 (3-1), while LA claimed a 4-2 win in 2016.
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistant Referees: Apolinar Mariscal (bench side), Cameron Blanchard (far)
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford