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March 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Sounders FC v. L.A. Galaxy, preview and prediction

LA Galaxy Logo.jpgSounders FC (0-0-0) v. Los Angeles Galaxy (0-0-0)

Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m., Qwest Field

TV: ESPN (Adrian Healey, John Harkes)

Radio: 97.3 KIRO (Arlo White)

Referee: Alex Prus

KEY L.A. GALAXY PLAYERS

F/M Landon Donovan — Who else, right? Earlier this week, coach Sigi Schmid called him the most influential player in the league. In that 4-0 beat down last year, Donovan had a goal and three assists. Speedy and skilled, he can beat a team in so many ways.

M David Beckham — I put him here not because I think he’s the game-changer he was in his prime, but because of Seattle’s notoriously bad set-piece defense — particularly in 2010. The Galaxy benefited from a couple of those against the Sounders and his service could be deadly.

F Chad Barrett — With Juan Pablo Angel rumored to be out for this one, expect the blue collar, hard-working, physical Barrett to get the call. His finishing ability, or lack thereof, was frustrating for Toronto FC fans. I think he’ll play a crucial deciding role tonight.

KEY MATCHUPS

Steve Zakuani v. Sean Franklin — I know Zakuani has been on the mend from an adductor strain, but he looked decent running around Sunday and Monday. Schmid said he’s progressing well so I’ll presume he gets the call. Franklin is one of the best right backs in the league, so it could be a battle.

Osvaldo Alonso v. Juninho — The Brazilian playmaker scored a wonder goal at the Home Depot Center last year and should be much more comfortable in Year 2 with the Galaxy. But the tenacious Cuban is good at making sure no opposing center mid feels comfortable.

Qwest Field crowd + expectations vs. 0-4 record against L.A. in 2010 — Lots of buildup, excitement and anticipation for the 2011 Sounders. This is supposed to be the year and a roaring crowd of 36,000 knows this. If the Galaxy’s rumored injuries are true, this is a very winnable game and a chance to exorcise the demons of last year.

PREDICTION

It’d shouldn’t be a huge surprise when I say L.A. has played a deliberate, defensive, conservation, counter-attacking style against Seattle in the past. I don’t expect that to change at all Tuesday night. Why should it? The Galaxy thrived off that manner of play against the Sounders last year.

Both sides have injury concerns to important players which will affect things also. I think the adrenaline and the possibly slick Field Turf could lead to a sloppy game, definitely early on. In my opinion Seattle will control the game, but allow a goal on the counter attack.

Sounders FC 1, L.A. Galaxy 1

LA: Landon Donovan (Juninho) 39′

SEA: Fredy Montero (Erik Friberg) 75′

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