After losing 4-0 at Isidro Metapan the LA Galaxy reverses and Bruce Arena have to travel up to Seattle and meet up with the starters looking to find a victory over the Seattle Sounders securing at least a top three finish. There's going to be a huge crowd on hand, but LA is used to huge crowds turning out to see them at this point.
We asked Three Questions of Dave Clark over at Sounder at Heart, to get a sense of why Seattle just can't seem to win.
LAGC: So what do you make of this Eddie Johnson controversy? Is it a mountain or a molehill?
SaH: Yes. It's whatever outside observers want it to be. The people with actual knowledge aren't sharing things so the favorite sport of conclusion jumping is taking place. Those that think that Sigi needs to go are using the latest incident as proof. Those that think that EJ is all about self and has a history of incidents see this as just another reason that the risk wasn't worth it. The truth will eventually come out. It could be a one day thing or it could be more. We'll know by Sunday, but we don't know now.
LAGC: How has everything on the pitch gone so wrong for Seattle lately? It's not just the losing streak, it's the sudden gaping hole in the defense and lack of corresponding goals.
SaH: You know how LA used to get even more bunkery-countery against Sounders FC? Well that happened twice by teams with better athletes at forward (not better soccer players, but athletes) so then Seattle couldn't contain the counter and it was two dumpster fires in a row. The other results are generally fair and except for Dallas were to be expected. If Seattle had just beaten Vancouver and drawn the Rapids then lost to Portland and Dallas this story would be quite different. Instead they got absolutely crushed and then lost a couple.
LAGC: Is Sigi Schmid's job in jeopardy? Or is he doing the best he can with the constraints he's been given? Or are there no constraints, and he's just lost?
SaH: His job is in jeopardy, but not because of the recent losses. If it is in jeopardy it is because the club thinks that he's gotten as much as he can out of the core of players he has at his disposal. If he stays it might not even be a long term endorsement. It could just be the FO saying simply that they want to give him a chance to have the new shiny things together for a few months before they think he's failed. That's one thing that has gone quite wrong for Seattle. Sounders FC have had to use their depth even more this year than most teams and in doing so still positioned themselves to finish as high as second in the West and fourth overall. That's while only repeating a lineup once during the year and playing all but three players on the roster. Three keepers with 3 or more MLS appearances. Seven defenders have appearances in a quarter of MLS games. Ten midfielders with eight or more matches. Only four forwards have that much time. Adam Moffat just got added. If he plays Sunday (he likely will) he'll make the quarter of season played mark as well.
That's a disgusting amount of depth that got tested and considering the club made the MLS Cup Playoffs again they passed that test
SaH: How hard will Bruce Arena go for a win considering he's succeeded with poor seeding and great seeding?
LAGC: Bruce Arena's going to go harder than basalt, cause succeeding despite poor seeding only reinforces how much you'd like to not have poor seeding. However, Arena is going to be in El Salvador for a few days with the reserves ahead of the Seattle match so 'going as hard as basalt' really just means that the starters have been left behind to focus on nothing but Seattle related issues. Donovan won't be 100% but he'll go, Omar Gonzalez is in the same boat.
Sah: Who has been the MVP for LA this season?
LAGC: Robert David Keane. In fact there's somewhat of a push for him to win MLS MVP though I am of the mind that he's had too many absences to qualify. Which is sort of a theme with all the Galaxy MVP choices. Jaime Penedo turned the season around, but he's only played eight games. Robbie Keane with 15 goals and 11 assists has shown the ability to be the no. 9 and then drop in behind and create when it's needed. He is the Galaxy offense this season, with Donovan and Zardes playing supporting roles. However, twenty-two appearances out of thirty three matches played thus far is a bit much.
SaH: It is finally and truly a post-Beckham era. Is it simply the Keane/Donovan era or is the system more complex than "get those dudes the ball?"
LAGC: The engine of the entire club attacking or defending is the central midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. Since LA still struggles with the winger position, everything continues to run through the center. Much more has been on the ground via breakaways this season, though that became true as soon as Keane came over and Beckham's powers began to wane. Sarvas had a hot streak where things were really distributing evenly, but Juninho hasn't been a goal machine this year. At this point the sole endpoint of the attack is Keane/Donovan, but Zardes is starting to show his ability to take players on. Against Chivas USA he really broke out, but he needs to do it against a quality opponent before he can truly be taken seriously.