The Sounders have won at the Los Angeles Galaxy twice in ten matches there, but they face a 2-4-0 team with plenty of new faces.
The Sounders, coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver, travel to Los Angeles tomorrow to face the Galaxy, a longtime rival and constant thorn in their side. Last September’s 4-2 win in Carson, California, was an aberration from the normal narrative of Sounders vs. Galaxy.
The Galaxy faced an inordinate amount of roster turnover from last season. Landon Donovan, Steven Gerrard, and Robbie Keane are all gone. The Galaxy reloaded their roster by adding Jermaine Jones and French wingman Romain Alessandrini.
After the mass exodus of some of MLS’ most obnoxious players, however, LA has looked mostly lost on the pitch. Replacing Bruce Arena is Curt Onalfo, who has installed a new setup for the Galaxy. Onalfo switched LA to a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 alignment to try and take advantage of Alessandrini’s attacking skills on the outside.
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Keeping Alessandrini contained will be the key to this game. Six of the eight Galaxy goals so far this season have had his feet involved. He’s not afraid to loft a long shot from outside the 18-yard box, so Sounders defenders will have to close down on him and limit his space in the final third.
Other than Alessandrini, the Galaxy offense has struggled. They have missed central distributor Sebastian Lletget, who is out with foot surgery. So far, Giovani Dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes haven’t been able to link up with Alessandrini much or create their own scoring chances.
The Sounders will have to exploit the width of the pitch against the Galaxy to win. Making runs into the heart of the suspect Galaxy defense will also be necessary for a Sounders win. Joevin Jones, ever a threat on the wing, will have to keep his width and test LA’s back line.
Seattle will be without Aaron Kovar, who is still recovering from groin surgery, Roman Torres — still sidelined with a hamstring strain, and probably Brad Evans, who has been training with the team and has an outside chance of being available off the bench for Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN at one p.m. Sunday.