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Galaxy-Sounders: Can Los Angeles Slam the Door Shut on Rave Green?

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst INovember 4, 2010

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 31:  Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy dribbles against the Seattle Sounders FC during the 1st leg playoff game at Qwest Field on October 31, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy are a win or a draw away from progressing to the Major League Soccer Western Conference Championship. Consolidation is a main focal point heading into the second leg against Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders on Sunday, Nov. 7 at the Home Depot Center.

“We’re definitely not confident yet, or cocky at all,” Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez said. “We know that this is a two-game series and they’re going to come to our house and try and get a goal."

"We’ve got to go into the game the same way we did [Sunday]—ready to play, ready to get into every tackle, ready to just fight to get that win again.”

“It’s not just a 90 minute game,” right back Sean Franklin said. “It’s a 180 minute game. It’s two games. So we’re happy with the win, but our job’s not done. We’re going to go out next week and get the shutout and get the win.”

Nothing different is expected from G's on the weekend's tilt, according to Franklin.

“I don’t expect a big change,” he said. “They’re a good side. They’re not going to change too much. We’ve got to be aware of that. We’ve just got to play the same way."

"[The Sounders] need a goal and we know the pressure’s on them to get a goal now. We’ve just got to be ready for whatever they throw at us.”

The usual suspects for Seattle—Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani and Blaise Nkufo—will need a more compelling performance on Sunday because they were haunted by the Galaxy back line at Qwest field in the first leg.

Galaxy captain Landon Donovan summed up the proceedings prior to the second leg over the week: Advantage, Los Angeles.

“The starting point is our mentality and the way we compete,” Donovan said. “If we do that, we have enough talented players to make plays that need to be made on both ends of the ball. That’s the starting point."

"Tactically, we’ll make sure that we’re right and that we’re playing the right way, but the pressure is completely on their shoulders now and they have to come win the game.”

Todd Dunivant is nursing a strained right hamstring and will be questionable. Also questionable are Leonardo and Michael Stephens, who are sidelined with knee discomfort.

Should the Galaxy prevail, they will take on either FC Dallas or Real Salt Lake for the MLS Western Conference crown on Nov. 14 at Victoria Street.



Prediction

I expect the Sounders to score once, but the Galaxy should get their chance at either sweeping the Hoops or forcing the rubber match with RSL. Let's try this scoreline.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Seattle Sounders 1
Los Angeles wins 3-1 on aggregate

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes.



INS & OUTS


A Big Prize for the Big Cat

Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, the Big Cat from Montego Bay, Jamaica, was named 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, beating out Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando and former Galaxy keeper/current FC Dallas netminder Kevin Hartman.

“Maybe [the award is] No. 1, because it’s the first time I’ve been named goalkeeper of the year in anything,” Ricketts said after training on Wednesday. “One out of one. It’s No. 1 for the time being, but it will soon be replaced by MLS Cup.”

For the time being, Mr. Ricketts...treat it as No. 1.

“He’s been great, and he’s put in 29 of the 30 games in goal,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “That’s part of it as well, the durability of goalkeepers. Donovan has been able to give us 29 good games and our opponents average under a goal a game. If you’re able to do that, you’re able to win games.”

Ricketts finished the 2010 MLS regular season with a 18-7-4 record, 11 shutouts, 79 saves, a 76.0 percent save percentage and a 0.9 goals against average.


Youth Academy Update

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Galaxy Under-18s defeated Cal Odyssey thanks to goals from Juan "Crabby" Gonzalez and Juan Mendoza. As previously mentioned in the last INS & OUTS, the Under-16s defeated Cal Odyssey 4-0. Goal scorers for the Under-16s were Drew Murphy, Willie Raygoza, Francisco Magallon and Azel Mendez. Josh McNeeley and Grayson Cornwall were a goalkeeping tag team in combining for the shutout.

As for the Galaxy's U-14 sides, the A squad will be in action to take on Compton United.



Ricardo got it right, says Kasey

Match referee Ricardo Salazar was right to call an indirect free kick after Seattle forward Blaise Nkufo impeded Ricketts' goal kick late in stoppage time on Halloween, says Sounders netminder Kasey Keller.

“I understand trying it, I guess,” Keller said. “You never know what a ref is going to do. But the ref got it right."

“Strange things happen, but you can’t kick the ball out of the goalkeeper’s hands when he’s trying to distribute. That’s just a rule. It’s not allowed."

Interfering with Goalkeeper Distribution: Law 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game states:

“A player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it."

In the 2009-10 publication, Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, the men and women calling the shots at the US Soccer Federation headquarters state:

“An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper’s release of the ball into play.”

There is no doubt that this would be a hard and fast way to score more goals. Pace yourself, Blaise Nkufo. Pace yourself.

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