The LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders are getting together for their fourth game in as bout as many weeks, a matchup that should have few surprises. Both teams know each other about as well as two teams can, and in all likelihood we'll see the same game out there that we've seen the past few weeks. While those games have gone an even 1-1-1, we argued earlier that LA has math on their side. Talking to Galaxy players after practice Friday, it appears they're up for the up-tempo-high-shot-volume effort that it will take to get a victory in Seattle.
"It's going to a fast and intense game because of the surface and because of what this game means," said Omar Gonzalez. "[On turf] it's easier to get tighter on people because it's harder to get a perfect first touch"
Quick on the ground with plenty on fifty-fifty balls should play well into LA's hand. The team knows it can't simply sit back and take Seattle's pressure for ninety minutes, and the right amount of pressing will lead to counter attacking opportunities. LA doesn't want to blow its advantage right out of the gate, but they'll want to take the possession they get and press on for a series altering early goal.
What will be key to watch is if Seattle sticks with looking for high percentage attempts or if they join LA in peppering the keeper. The Galaxy took over fifty more shoots then the next highest team in Major League Soccer, but Seattle's gameplan shows in having the second most shots on goal in the league despite being further down the list in attempts. They pride themselves on accuracy, and knowing how LA likes to play may choose to stick with the slow build.
"I think they realize that if they come out and put too many numbers forward that we're a very dangerous team going the other way," said Landon Donovan. "They could come out with a lot of energy and press us, they could play a little more conservatively knowing they have the ninety minutes to get that goal. We're prepared either way."
Prepared was a key word from all the designated players leaving practice today. Knowing their opponent this well means preparation goes beyond any matchup they've had this year. Both teams want to advance, and both teams know exactly what the other one wants to do. We will get more a chess match than anything else, and with the Galaxy holding a one goal advantage that certainly puts them where they want to be.