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October 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM

What to watch for: Sounders FC vs. L.A. Galaxy

The Sounders visit the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., with a chance to clinch the Supporters’ Shield with a win over the L.A. Galaxy. Here’s what to watch for.

Last time out: Galaxy 3, Sounders 0 on July 28 at CenturyLink Field — Gyasi Zardes, Landon Donovan and Stefan Ishizaki stunned home fans with a trio of first-half goals en route to a comfortable romp.

Battle to watch: Seattle’s counterattack vs. L.A. counterattack

Both teams like to play on the break, though they go about it in different ways. The Sounders want to get the ball to the feet of Clint Dempsey or Obafemi Martins as soon as possible, while the Galaxy preferring playing off each other and attacking via the wing.

The opening salvo’s of Sunday’s match could be cagey, with both sides feeling each other out during the first of what could be four meetings in the next month-and-a-half.

“We rarely play for draws,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Saturday after training.

That result would, however, allow his team to maintain its edge ahead of next week’s rematch at CenturyLink Field. Both teams are on 60 points, but Seattle has the tiebreaker with the most total wins.

Schmid’s player selections in the midfield will be telling about Seattle’s intent.

Andy Rose is an incisive passer and has showed a penchant for dramatic roles, while Micheal Azira can track from box-to-box. Gonzalo Pineda, who combines both roles and fit in naturally beside Osvaldo Alonso before picking up a string of injures, came on as a substitute last weekend against Vancouver and went through full training all week.

Player to watch: Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas

Sarvas was dominant in that first meeting, painting the field with his passing and helping set up the back-breaking third goal with a piledriving shot from the middle of the box.

Pineda admitted afterward that Seattle lost control of the midfield — his team was overrun. The Sounders couldn’t maintain possession, and giveaway after giveaway turned into Galaxy counters.

“The (Galaxy) are an arrogant team in the sense that they figure you’re going to lose the ball,” Schmid said.

“They’re good in transition and the bank upon the fact that they think you’re going to make a mistake.”

Sarvas is as vital a link as any, and if he and Juninho see as much of the ball as they did in that late-July match, Seattle could be in for a long evening.

“I don’t think there are any secrets at this point between these two teams,” Sounders defender Chad Marshall said, and that’s part of what makes this de facto two-leg series so fascinating.

How to watch: The match will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with kickoff set for 5:30 p.m.

| More in MLS, Preview and prediction, Sounders FC


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