The LA Galaxy have to take on the Seattle Sounders on more time with the Supporters' Shield on the line, and most of the particulars are known. I exchanged three questions with Dave Clark of Sounder as Heart, as is customary at SB Nation, to access the storylines going into the match. My answers to his questions are first, with his answers to my questions later.
1 - How bad is the forced change from Omar Gonzalez to Leonardo (or someone else?) going to be for LA?
The off the cuff reaction anyone with eyeballs is sure to have will undoubtedly be to support the notion that this will go quite badly. I'm going to borrow a line from Lee Corso here: Not so fast, my friend.
Leonardo has nineteen starts at center back this season. That means while he can be assigned direct blame for at least four points that the Galaxy would like to have back, he's also been a big part of the +34 goal differential LA has enjoyed this year. According to the incredibly relevant Castrol Index, Leonardo's actually a better player this season then DeLaGarza.
Facetiousness aside, all together I'm just glad it was Gonzalez that got the red card and not DeLaGarza. The biggest issues have arisen when Gonzalez and Leonardo started next to each other, as their styles are too similar. Leo is going to get himself into strange positions and he needs a quick partner who can clean up his messes. LA's best chance is to keep the amount of shots against down with better midfield play.
2 - What went well for LA on Sunday?
The part where they scored the two goals and everyone was happy was pretty nice. I wonder if there are people who had fancy dinner parties to go to who left before the hour mark and think LA did really well in that win. The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! How happy...
What went well and led to that blameless vestal start was Dan Gargan and Baggio Husidic playing well as Seattle locked down Landon Donovan's channel. Juninho did his usual workhorse bit controlling things in the middle, and DeLaGarza behind him was the sweeper just sweeping up any Sounder liter that blew into his path.
3 - Any chance that Bruce Arena just rolls over or does he want this trophy?
Outside of the US Open Cup, and CCL away ties, I've never seen Bruce Arena acknowledge a change of conditions with his lineup, his substitutions, or anything else. The man is brilliant, I know he knows the situation and what's required, but it's always about the best players on the field and nothing more.
It's something that can be quite frustrating. We've reached a point where Alan Gordon is his first substitution no matter the situation. It hurt LA playing Seattle, as his best players philosophy left Gyasi Zardes in the game even though he's not effective from the midfield.
However, it also meant sticking with Zardes through the early period, so it tends to work in the long term even if there are short term frustrations. Arena is going to put a lineup out that he feels can win. God help us, he might even just get it done. With Leonardo! That man's a genius.