Is their U.S. Open Cup defense over come Wednesday night?
That's the dilemma facing manager Sigi Schmid as the Seattle Sounders FC take on the Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington on Wednesday, July 7.
Schmid can only hope that the Buddlevan connection of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan take the night off, allowing the rest of the team to pitch in against a Seattle side that is hoping to take one back from the best team in Major League Soccer.
Seattle defeated the Portland Sounders on penalty kicks 4-3 after 120 minutes and a 1-1 draw in the third round. Down the Pacific coast, the Galaxy defeated A.C. St. Louis 2-0 at the Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy are currently 11-1-3 (36 points) in the 2010 Major League Soccer season, good for first in the Western Conference and the best overall record. Meanwhile, the Sounders are 4-8-3 (15 points) and sit seventh in the West and 11th overall.
Something to ponder: if Steve Zakuani's goal on Sunday said anything about the home field advantage the Rave Green will have Wednesday night, LA's defense will be critical to continuing the cup run here in the Open Cup quarterfinals.
You get a breakdown in the back line at the expense of Omar Gonzalez, and things can get pretty interesting.
All in all, this shapes up to be a solid quarterfinal with Los Angeles is hoping to secure the Seattle Sweep.
Now the Starfire Sports Complex only seats 2,000, but with the passion of its fans looking to be the difference for the Sounders, it might as well sound like 20,000.
The Los Angeles Galaxy might look to involve their reserve side. I believe that if Edson Buddle is given a start on Wednesday he will be looked at as the main ingredient to ending the Sounders' campaign. I don't expect Landon Donovan to be given the nod here.
Miguel Montano will be trouble for the Galaxy back line, as he will be utilized more in Tukwila. However, I see Gregg Berhalter and his ilk learning their lesson from the last time.
With that said, let's try this result:
Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Seattle Sounders 1
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT and can be heard live on lagalaxy.com.
INS & OUTS:
Superlatives from Sunday's contest
With the win, the Galaxy are nine points ahead of second place Real Salt Lake, who defeated New England 5-0 on Friday night and have 27 points from an 8-3-3 record.
This was the Galaxy’s first win over Seattle ever at The Home Depot Center.
The victory completed the regular season sweep of Seattle for the Galaxy, winning the two games by a combined score of 7-1.
Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that drew 0-0 in Toronto on June 26, replacing Alex Cazumba and Jovan Kirovski with Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan.
This was the first time since June 5 that the Galaxy did not use the same starting XI. Arena had named an unchanged side in each of the last three games.
Arena had 22 of the 24 players on the Galaxy roster available to him for tonight’s game. Only Mike Magee, on the disabled list after undergoing bilateral sports hernia surgery late last month, and Yohance Marshall, on loan to the Austin Aztex of the USSF Division 2 Pro League, were not available for selection.
Buddle and Donovan were each back in the Galaxy lineup for the first time since leaving for the World Cup on May 15.
They missed five regular season games, with the Galaxy going 3-1-1 in those five contests. LA also won a friendly against Boca Juniors 1-0 on May 23 and a U.S. Open Cup Third Round game against AC St. Louis 2-0 on June 29 in their absence.
LA’s 33 points at the halfway point of the season are the second most in club history, and their most since 1998.
Edson Buddle gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute, heading home a Landon Donovan corner kick. The goal was an MLS best 10th of the season for Buddle, making it the third time in Buddle’s career that he has scored 10 or more goals in a single season. He also did so in 2003 and 2004 with Columbus, and agin in 2008 when he had a career-high 15 goals in his first full season with the Galaxy.
Buddle is the first player in the league to reach double figures in goals, doing so in his 10th game of the season.
Donovan’s assist was an MLS-best 10th of the season. He has now reached double figures in assists five times in his MLS career, doing so in 2001 and 2004 as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as in 2005 and 2007 with the Galaxy. He set a career-high with 13 assists in 2007.
Of Buddle’s 10 goals this season, six have been assisted on by Donovan. Additionally, Buddle assisted on Donovan’s only goal of the season, which came in the 4-0 win at Seattle on May 8.
In two games against the Sounders this season, Donovan now has one goal and four assists.
Juninho scored the first goal of his MLS career in the 48th minute, beating Kasey Keller from about 35 yards out. Juninho scored the first goal of his Galaxy career on Tuesday night in the second half of the Galaxy’s Open Cup win over AC St. Louis.
Juninho is the 12th different Galaxy player to score in an MLS game this season.
His goal was the game-winner, making it the first game-winning goal scored for the Galaxy, by a Brazilian, since Welton scored the game-winner at Colorado on August 5, 1998.
Michael Stephens assisted on Juninho’s goal for his seventh assist of the year. Only three behind Donovan, Stephens is now tied with San Jose’s Bobby Convey for the second most assists in the league.
The Galaxy completed the scoring in the 77th minute when James Riley scored an own goal, deflecting an Alan Gordon cross past Kasey Keller and over the goal line to make the score 3-1. That is the first own goal scored for the Galaxy this season, and 15th in the club's history.
The Galaxy scored the game’s first goal for the 11th time this season, and are now a perfect 11-0-0 in those games. Additionally, LA went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, marking the 10th time this season that the club has led at the half. They are 10-0-0 in those games.
Donovan Ricketts made three saves for his career-best 11th win of the season. Ricketts had 10 wins last year, his first season with the Galaxy.
Steve Zakuani’s goal for the Sounders was just the fifth goal allowed by LA this season and the third in the second half.
The attendance for today’s game was 27,000. This was the Galaxy’s first sellout of the season, and the first time Lalas Hill was opened to the public.
Other U.S. Open Cup matches
The Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division face DC United at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on July 21 in Germantown, Maryland.
Two matches are on the cards on Tuesday. At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Columbus Crew host the USL Second Division's Charleston Battery, while Chivas USA travel to Houston's Robertson Stadium for a match with the Houston Dynamo at 8:30 p.m. ET.