Brian Schmetzer appreciates how good the Los Angeles Galaxy are, but believes the Seattle Sounders can give them a competitive match on Sunday.
With six games remaining, time is running out for the Seattle Sounders to maintain their proud record of making the playoffs every season since joining MLS in 2009. In that respect, every upcoming fixture is in effect a playoff-type scenario, with the Sounders currently sitting five points back of sixth place in the Western Conference.
Of the remaining matches, you can make a justified argument for this Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Galaxy being the most difficult one to expect points from. While the rivalry between the two sides has always been well contested, Seattle doesn’t do particularly well on their travels to StubHub Center.
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The Sounders managed to win on their first ever trip to Los Angeles, back in 2009. However, since then they have failed to beat the Galaxy on the road, losing nine of 12 subsequent games (including a quarter-final defeat in the U.S. Open Cup back in July this year.)
It doesn’t help that Seattle struggles to score in LA, with just eight goals in those 12 games. Throw in the fact the Galaxy are unbeaten at home this season, and you realize the size of the task facing the Rave Green.
Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer spoke to the media on Wednesday, about what he will plan for against the Galaxy: “The lineup – who are they going to play, because they had a different lineup against Sporting KC.
“So we’ll plan for different scenarios, but it comes back to getting our team right…We’re going to continue to fine tune our formation and hopefully if everything goes right, we’ll give them a competitive match.”
In truth, if the Sounders can leave LA with a point, it will be considered an excellent result. Given that they will likely need to score at least once to realize this ambition, Jordan Morris will undoubtedly play a significant role.
With 10 goals so far this season, Morris is Seattle’s leading scorer. Making his contribution even more important, is the continued absence of Clint Dempsey, who himself has scored eight times in 2016.
Schmetzer said: “When your chance comes, you need to be able to put that in the back of the net. It might only be one chance a game.
“I mean Jordan had a tremendous game (against Vancouver) and he had a couple of half-chances. (However), his one really good, clear chance on goal, he was able to finish it and that’s the mindset I need them to have.”
Perhaps most impressive about Morris, he is tied for the league-lead with five match-winners. Schmetzer appreciates how this can help the youngster: “Jordan’s a pretty confident kid – I mean he’s humble, but he’s confident.
“I’m sure there’s ups and downs, because he’s still a first year pro, but I think that helps him. Obviously scoring a winning goal, that’s what we dream about when we’re playing soccer in the back yard.”
Overall, Schmetzer is encouraged by the Sounders’ recent form. But don’t mistake this for not appreciating the quality of the Galaxy.
Schmetzer said: “The team’s confidence is high, but we understand and respect our opponent. LA’s a good team…so we’re going to do what we can to prepare and try and come out with a result.”
What’s your prediction for Sunday? What do you think the outcome will be for the Sounders against the Galaxy, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.