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October 31, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Sounders FC v. Los Angeles Galaxy, preview and prediction

Los Angeles Galaxy (top seed in West)

Head coach: Bruce Arena, third year

Last week: Beat FC Dallas 2-1 to clinch Supporters’ Shield

Last year: Lost in MLS Cup to RSL at Qwest Field

KEY GALAXY PLAYERS

F/M Landon Donovan — Whether he plays wide or up top, he’s going to be the most talented player on the field. Last time he came to Seattle he had three assists and a goal. So while Sounders FC has turned things around in the second half, the home side still faces a tough test in the American great.

D Omar Gonzalez — He’s possibly the best defender in the league right now in just his second year. He’s got a limitless future, perhaps with the U.S. national team, and is a player you certainly have to game plan against. Dangerous on set pieces as seen in his goal at Qwest in May.

GK Donovan Ricketts — Earlier in the season he might’ve been the favorite for Goalkeeper of the Year. His production has slowed a bit — perhaps due to his team’s dip in form — but he’s still one of the elite backstops in MLS. Seattle will likely push the game, so he’ll have to come up big a time or two.

KEY MATCHUPS

Seattle M Steve Zakuani v. Galaxy D Sean Franklin — This is the game within the game that a lot of people are talking about. Zakuani’s growth has been a hot story on the news wire recently so a lot of focus will be on him. Franklin is an athletic right back that can bottle him up and press forward too. Should be an interesting one.

Galaxy F Edson Buddle v. Seattle Ds Jeff Parke/Patrick Ianni — Edson Buddle, remember him? Would’ve won the Golden Boot with 17 goals were it not for taking some time off to play in the World Cup and also a magical last week by San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski. Keep an eye on him as a target on the counter attack.

Galaxy M Juninho v. Seattle M Osvaldo Alonso — The Brazilian’s goal against Sounders FC at the Home Depot Center might’ve been the best I’ve ever seen live. A great distributor and playmaker in the middle, he’ll face an immense task in trying to do it against the tenacious Cuban.

PREDICTION

I think Los Angeles will come out with a conservative approach for sure. There’s no sense in them pushing the game on the road, especially when their counterattacking strategy worked so well in the first meeting of the year. Losing 1-0 wouldn’t be the worst result for them and getting a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would be gold.

Seattle knows that and will play deliberately at first as well. Keeping possession will be key and playing on the home turf will help — the Galaxy are bound to have several extra turnovers playing on the unfamiliar surface.

If you watched the New York-San Jose game Saturday, you saw an up and down, ping-pong type game. I think this will be the opposite of that with lots of time in between quality scoring chances.

Sounders FC 1, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

54′ — Blaise Nkufo (Sanna Nyassi)

68′ — Edson Buddle (David Beckham)

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