Mystery Surrounds Seattle Sounders, L.A. Galaxy Contest

Bill HareCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2010

SEATTLE - JUNE 10:  Andy Najar #14 of D.C. United battles Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC on June 10, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Seattle Sounders FC announced today that the Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila , Washington has been sold out for Wednesday night’s 7 p.m. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open quarter-final against Western Conference leader Los Angeles Galaxy.

Due to the scheduling confluence of ongoing U.S. Open Tournament competition and the MLS the Sounders and Galaxy are meeting twice in a four day period. Sunday night at Home Depot Center in Carson, California, the host L.A. team extended its MLS record to 11-1-3 with a 3-1 win over Seattle.

The 36 points achieved by Los Angeles thus far puts the Galaxy a full 9 points above the Columbus Crew, the Eastern Conference pace setter. The Galaxy lead the entire MLS in points, giving them a comfortable position.

The Galaxy used recently returned U.S. World Cup stars Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle in Friday's contest.

An air of mystery surrounds the decision making of veteran coaches Sigi Schmid of the Sounders and Bruce Arena of the Galaxy. The major question relates to which players will be used and those that will be rested.

Following Sunday night’s Galaxy win Arlo White, television commentator for the Sounders, speculated that Landon Donovan would not see action in Tukwila .

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With the spectacular achievement of the Galaxy thus far Bruce Arena was named coach of the MLS All-Star team that will face legendary Manchester United at Houston's Reliant Stadium June 28. 

Based on the Galaxy effort there are doubtlessly those from opposition ranks who believe that if Arena put his own roster on the pitch that it would constitute a formidable MLS All-Star team.

In the case of Seattle, defending U.S. Open Cup titlist, the motivation of Coach Sigi Schmid may be greater than that of Arena. The Rave Green need to begin rebuilding in an effort to make the playoffs during a season in which a rash of injuries occurred, including long term ones to defender John Kennedy Hurtado and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.

The Sounders have lost five of their last six games including three in a row for the first time in franchise history. The Seattle record is 4-8-3 in the MLS with 15 points.

Schmid was confronted with the same nagging decision last week in a U.S. Open Cup match at Portland against their natural northwest rivals. On the one hand Schmid wanted to win, but on the other he wanted to rest players for the Galaxy game and other MLS challenges up the road.

He ended up splitting the difference by resting some players but ultimately inserting his two scoring threats, Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero , bringing them in at around the 60-minute mark.

The score stayed at 1-1 even after 30 minutes of overtime. The Sounders won the ensuing penalty kick shootout 4-3.

This was not what Schmid wanted and both coaches are undoubtedly praying to avoid overtime action in Tukwila on Wednesday.

With the Sounders needing momentum more, however, and having lost twice to L.A. thus far this season, it is no stretch to conclude that of the two coaches Schmid will be more likely to push the envelope.

On the other hand, the Sounders have some MLS home appearances forthcoming beginning with a Sunday night meeting at the Xbox pitch of Qwest Field against FC Dallas. The sides played to a 2-2 draw in their first meeting earlier in the season in Texas.

As crafty veterans, Schmid and Arena may pull some surprises out of the hat from their bench. One hunch would be Schmid unleashing speedy rookie striker Miguel Montano service.

The Sounders’ mentor has also been looking with great favor on Michael Seamon , just one month out of Villanova University. Schmid has wisely been bringing the promising midfielder along gradually. He did receive plenty of duty against both the Portland Timbers and the Galaxy last week as a test of sorts. Seamon may well spend a great deal of time on the Tukwila pitch Wednesday night.

By Schmid’s admission, making the playoffs will not be an easy proposition for his team after its first half season woes, enhanced by injuries. He reasons that it will take 45 points to make the playoffs, triple what the Sounders currently have.

Schmid as well as his players know that it will take a bright second half of achievement to remove the first half millstone and take the team to the kind of playoff success that was experienced in Seattle last year.