Leg 2 of the Western Conference Championship between Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy will take place Sunday ( 9:20pm ET: ESPN) at the XBox Pitch in Century Link Field with the LA Galaxy holding a one goal lead. It is only fitting that the two best teams in MLS will face off for the sixth time this year in a game that will decide the host for this years MLS Cup.
The Galaxy have won two games, tied one and lost one and hold a slight edge in the season series.With the season on the line on Sunday here are three keys that will determine who advances and who stays home.
The biggest question for Sounders FC is how fit is Osvaldo Alonso and Lamar Neagle? Alonso is the engine that moves Seattle both on offense and defense. Alonso’s ability to disrupts LA’s passes in the middle of the field was solely missed in the firs leg which Alonso missed due to hamstring injury. Alonso ‘s absence in game one also meant there where no linking passes from Seattle ‘s midfield to it’s forward line.
The other question will be how long will it take Lamar Neagle to get his game rhythm back? Neagle also missed Leg one due to a personal family matter. Without the speed threat that Neagle bring in the middle, the LA defense had minimal concerns when it came to guarding against the counter attack.
Being a goal down means Seattle will need to go in search of goals. The question is when not how ? Seattle cannot afford to wait. If LA gets to two before Seattle get’s to one, time could run out on the Sounders. Seattle will need to be aggressive from the get go. The offense will need to make quick passes, to players who are making runs behind the LA defense.
Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin will need to play a vital role in the Seattle offense by making overlapping runs upfield, and lobbing lethal crosses in front of the Galaxy goal for Obefami Martins and Clint Dempsey to run onto.
LA counter attack:
MLS defender of the year Chad Marshal and his back-line mates of, Brad Evans, Leo Gonzales and DeAndre Yedlin will need to stay sharp, alert and be on the lookout for LA’s lethal counter attack. The Galaxy have taken a page from the LA Lakers Showtime of old. The Lakers would force a turn over with pressure defense, get the ball to Magic Johnson or James Worth who then filled a passing lane, made two passes and dunk you very much. The Galaxy’s version of Showtime is LA midfielders forcing a turnover with the opportunistic Robbie Keane collecting the ball and quickly finding a galloping Landon Donovan or a streaking Gyasi Zardes who have covetous eyes on the opponents goal.
Pre match stats:
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo.
AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): Corey Rockwell;
4th: Hilario Grajeda
LA 6 wins, 21 goals … SEA 4 wins, 16 goals … Ties 5
2014 HEAD-TO-HEAD: SEA 1 win, 4 goals … LA 1 win, 5 goals … Ties 1
AT CENTURY LINK FIELD:
7/28: SEA 0, LA 3 (Zardes 8; Donovan 18; Ishizaki 36)
10/25: SEA 2, LA 0 (Pappa 85, 95+)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: LA 4 wins, 8 GF … SEA 1 win, 3 GF … Ties 0