Sounders FC (15-12-6) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (15-11-7)
Sunday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
National TV: ESPN (Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman, Alexi Lalas)
Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM, SiriusXM FC (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Referee: Mark Geiger
KEY GALAXY PLAYERS
F/M Landon Donovan — He’s dealing with a bum ankle, but I’m thinking he’ll play for a couple reasons. First off, L.A. has a lot to gain: Sunday’s winner would go straight to the conference semifinals and avoid the play-in game. On a more personal level, this is Donovan’s last chance to break the MLS scoring record with his 135th regular-season goal. Interestingly, the record was last broken here when Jeff Cunningham got Goal 134 in 2011.
GK Jaime Penedo — The addition of this Panamanian standout might have been a season-changer. Carlo Cudicini, formerly of Chelsea in the English Premier League, wasn’t working out at all, and management made a blog move in pulling the plug. Penedo has played just eight games and (believe it or not) was even mentioned in the Goalkeeper of the Year debate on the league website. Has 21 saves overall, and several of them were jaw-droppers.
F/M Gyasi Zardes — Mike Magee is no longer around to provide that third threat in the attack, but this 22-year-old is developing into one, mainly down the left wing. Three of his four assists this season have come in the last three games (plus a goal). You have to think his getting more comfortable with each game. In fact, he’s started 22 in a row, which is the longest active streak on the team.
Robbie Keane vs. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — The Sounder got the best of this matchup the last time, even leading to a couple kick-outs of frustration from the Galaxy forward. The was a deviation from the norm, however, as the Irish international has scored six goals against Seattle dating the last year’s playoffs (including three in a 4-0 beating on May 26). His 15 goals and 11 assists for the season are both team highs.
Osvaldo Alonso vs. Marcelo Sarvas — It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention this week, but Seattle’s three-time team MVP is set to return to the lineup after a one-game suspension. The Sounders are 7–12–4 without him over the years (67-32-39 with him). The Galaxy will be without one of its midfield stalwarts as Juninho is suspended, meaning much of the responsibility will fall on his counterpart and fellow Brazilian.
Hobbled talent vs. hobbled talent — Player for player, these might be the two most talent-laden rosters in the league. However, L.A. has injury concerns with Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, among others. Seattle looks to be without Obafemi Martins and Leo Gonzalez, plus Clint Dempsey is playing hurt and Eddie Johnson is just coming back from his issue.
The Sounders haven’t done too much lately to instill confidence in a prediction, but I think the X-factor will be a raucous home stadium of 67,000 or so.
The team is 4-0 in front of 60K-plus crowds, of course, with a 10-1 goal differential.
Remember, Seattle blasted the Galaxy, 4-0, in front of a big crowd last year. Actually, the last three games between the teams at CenturyLink Field have been three Sounders’ wins by a combined 8-1 scored (even if one resulted in playoff elimination).
A first goal would help…
Sounders FC 2, LA Galaxy 1
SEA — Brad Evans (Clint Dempsey) 34′
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 65′
LA — Landon Donovan (pk) 81′
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What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?