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October 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Sounders FC vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, preview and prediction

LA Galaxy Logo.jpgSounders FC (15-7-11) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (15-12-6)

Sunday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m., The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.

National TV: ESPN (Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman, Alexi Lalas)

Radio: KIRO 97.3-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Referee: Kevin Stott

KEY GALAXY PLAYERS

D Omar Gonzalez — Has played every minute since his July comeback from an ACL injury suffered over the offseason. The fourth-year man was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2011, has made the Best XI the past two seasons, and a lot of people think he should get consideration for the U.S. national team. He’s also 6 foot 5 and incredibly dangerous in the air, having scored a couple goals against the Sounders in the past.

F Robbie Keane — The other two designated players (David Beckham and Landon Donovan) might get more of the attention, but the Irishman has had an incredible season with a team-high 16 goals. That’s good for fourth best in MLS. He’s also in great form with five goals in his last five games, seven goals in his last nine games, and 13 goals since mid-June.

M Juninho — Seattle soccer folk know all about unheralded midfielders (though that might be arguable now in the case of Osvaldo Alonso, a two-time MLS All-Star), but the Brazilian is one of those glue guys in the middle of the field. He also has seven goals this season and has been known in the past two blast some dangerous long-range shots, as the Sounders have seen before.

KEY MATCHUPS

Brad Evans vs. Sean Franklin — This will be a two-way matchup. Seattle’s versatile midfielder scored a couple goals in his last game and is settling in on the left side, but he’ll also have to keep an eye on LA’s right back, who likes to shoot up the right flank. Franklin has five assists this season, which is the most for Galaxy players among the non-DPs. Which player is more involved in his team’s attack might be a good indicator Sunday.

Fredy Montero vs. Tommy Meyer — Regular Galaxy starter A.J. DeLaGarza is still out with the sprained knee, so I think the rookie defender from Indiana will get the call. I also anticipate Eddie Johnson will match up a lot with Omar Gonzalez, which could open the door for Montero to shine. Meyer is big (6 foot 2) and athletic, but he’s only got 570 minutes this season.

Something to gain vs. little to gain — Every player wants to win, but the Galaxy really doesn’t have much to gain in this one. Nothing except the possibility of hosting Houston in the MLS Cup, maybe, and some momentum. The Sounders, on the other hand, have a lot to play for as a win would give them the third-best overall record in the league, which has a lot of implications for MLS Cup hosting rights and making the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.

PREDICTION

The Sounders will be looking for a win, but they haven’t beaten the Galaxy on the road since 2009. How long ago was that? Well, Peter Vagenas played a crucial role in that win and only three of this year’s starters played in that game.

Maybe that means Seattle is due for one, and the rivalry has certainly been one-sided in two games at CenturyLink Field (a 2-0 win and a 4-0 win for the Sounders).

Ultimately I think it comes down to what has been mentioned before — who needs it more. The Sounders have much more to gain and look to be coming in a bit healthier, as well.

Sounders FC 2, LA Galaxy 1

SEA — Christian Tiffert (Fredy Montero) 34′

LA — Robbie Keane (Mike Magee) 55′

SEA — Fredy Montero (Eddie Johnson) 64′

* * *

How do you see this one playing out?

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