The Los Angeles Galaxy (18-7-5, 59pts) are one of two teams who came out of the away leg of their aggregate series ahead on goals, with New York Red Bulls being the other. However, the Galaxy don't want to repeat New York's second leg mistakes against the Seattle Sounders FC at the Home Depot Center on Sunday night. Because of the result the Galaxy were able to get in Seattle, they advance to the next round with a draw or a win. The Galaxy are 19-2-1 at home in the playoffs all time, and 5-0-1 at Home Depot Center, the draw a 2-2 affair with Chivas USA last year.
The Los Angeles Galaxy marched into Seattle Sounders territory and came out victorious on the strength of Edson Buddle's foot. In a game where the Galaxy played 90 minutes of defensive soccer, much to the chagrin of certain pundits, Buddle simply lofted the ball over an out of place keeper for the game's only goal. No buildup, no play in place, just a striker recognizing an opportunity.
"I don’t know how he pulled that off to be honest with you. That’s a turf goal," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "[There were] a lot of turf plays – balls bouncing around, off shins, up in the air, out of bounds. We don’t want to make too many copies of this game and distribute it around the world."
As to the defensive play, it doesn't look likely that the Galaxy break away from that gameplan. The two way play of David Beckham and Landon Donovan in the wide midfield positions was one of the keys to shutting down Seattle's high performance offense. With Landon Donovan play in midfield again, Mike Magee joined Edson Buddle on the attack.
"I think we still have to be cautious in many ways," David Beckham said. "I still think that we have to do our job in defending, that doesn't stop just because we're at home in front of our fans."
Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza started in the back despite Gregg Berhalter being cleared fit for match play. This was their fifth straight pairing in central defense and their second clean sheet as a pair. Berhalter did make a late cameo, but coach Arena has said Gonzalez and DeLaGarza are likely to get the start again on Sunday.
"We know they have a lot of speed so going into the game we just knew that we had to keep them in front of us, keep the game in front of us," Gonzalez said. "The midfielders and forwards did a great job of putting pres- sure on them and made it really easy and predictable for us to go into challenges."
The problems for Seattle coming into tonight's match are many. Despite their excellent record in Open Cup play, they are currently working on a 300 minute goalless streak in MLS Cup play. Centerback Jeff Parke suffered an ankle injury midway through the second half. Parke started 20 games for Seattle, and was replaced in game by Tyrone Marshall who made just six starts during the regular season. The Sounders have only won once at Home Depot Center in their brief history, against the Galaxy last year, but are also (0-2-1) against Chivas USA at HDC. Seattle may however gain an advantage in the way HDC plays wider than Quest Field, meaning Donovan and Beckham on the wings have to play spread out.
Seattle fans are also showing their rabid nature, allegedly bringing down 500 away supporters to HDC. The grass end of the Home Depot Center has been opened, so likely tonight's match will be a loud, sold out affair. When asked about the crowd noise, Landon Donovan said:
"We've all played enough games where we can tune that out, but it was a lot of fun for us to play in that atmosphere. It's great that they're committed enough to come down here. It'll make for a better atmosphere in our stadium. With our fans and their fans it'll be a good night."