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November 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

What to watch for: Sounders FC vs. L.A. Galaxy, Western Conference final Leg 2

The Sounders have to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of the Western Conference final on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field in order to advance to their first-ever MLS Cup final.

Here’s what to watch for.

Last time out: Galaxy 1, Sounders 0 last Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. — Marcelo Sarvas bounced a shot off Seattle defender Chad Marshall’s shin and past a flailing Stefan Frei in goal to net the game’s only tally early in the second half.

Battle to watch: Committing players into the attack vs. changing away-goal scenarios.

Though Seattle needs at least one goal to keep its MLS Cup dreams alive, both coach Sigi Schmid and his charges were adamant this week that priority No. 1 is keeping a clean sheet at the other end of the field.

Criticize the away-goals tiebreaker if you’d like, but it does add the intrigue of ever-shifting arithmetic.

Every game these teams played against each other this season — sans the 3-0 whopping L.A. put on Seattle here in late July — has felt like a chess match, both teams feeling each other out.

One Galaxy goal on Sunday means the Sounders have to answer with at least three of their own, so does L.A. go for the jugular or force Seattle to make the first move? If the score stays at zeroes, at what point do the Sounders go into all-out attack mode?

“You know that Robbie (Keane) and Landon (Donovan) and (Gyasi) Zardes are going to want to still score goals,” Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said. “They don’t play the game to defend. They don’t play the game to tie games.”

Or L.A. could net an early goal and throw the match into anarchy.

Player to watch: L.A. midfielder Marcelo Sarvas

Keep an eye on the team sheets, as Sarvas is still questionable after suffering a leg injury in the first leg. On the other side, Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is still progressing from a hamstring injury carried over from the Dallas series — though Schmid has been coy about the extent of his recovery.

Which of these facilitators can go and which cannot could very well shift the battle for control of the ball on Sunday.

L.A. had more than 60 percent of the possession last Sunday with Alonso out of the Seattle lineup, though Schmid cautioned against reading too much into the statistics.

“(Possession) is often times a misleading fact,” Schmid said. “There’s a lot of games that you look at where the team with more possession loses the game. It’s not always a predictor of victory. You can have possession and it’s all in your end of the field.”

Yes, but winning the possession battle is a good place to start. And given those scenarios, Seattle is going to need all the help it can get.

How to watch: The match will be televised nationally on ESPN, with the broadcast beginning at 6:20 p.m. and kickoff scheduled for 6:30.

| More in MLS, Preview and prediction, Sounders FC


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