“Our intention is: we’re playing at home, this is a game that gives us the chance to win the Supporters’ Shield, so we’re putting everything into it.”
That was Landon Donovan’s take on Sunday’s showdown between the LA Galaxy and visiting side the Seattle Sounders. It is, certainly, a game as big as they come.
You can imagine the league’s schedulers patting themselves on the back for how they’re wrapping up the 2014 regular season. LA and Seattle, back to back, home and away — and the results of these games will determine the winner of the Supporters’ Shield. Better yet: there’s no denying these two teams are contenders for the MLS Cup. These games are a good preview of what a Western Conference final could look like.
So how does LA win this one?
We talked to Landon Donovan about the Galaxy’s home field advantage earlier this week. But the gist is simple: the Galaxy don’t lose at home. With a 12–1–3 record at StubHub Center, LA needs to take advantage of whatever magic has been getting them results in Carson.
“The energy, and just being here in LA, have always been good for us,” said Donovan. “We’re always prepared, we always get a good week of training here at home. And we feel prepared when we go into the game.”
But Seattle has weapons of their own — two of them, to hear Donovan say it. “The way Clint [Dempsey] and Oba [Martins] play, sometimes it’s almost like they’re playing against cones,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “They’re just passing the ball back and forth, running straight through the middle of the field and creating chances.”
“The way Clint and Oba play, sometimes it’s almost like they’re playing against cones.”
LA and Seattle have squared off just once this year, in July at the Sounders’ own Century Link Field. That game was, surprisingly, a romp for the Galaxy, who tallied three goals in the first half and rode them to a shutout win.
But LA isn’t taking anything for granted. “I think we know that they’re going to look different than they did that day in Seattle,” said Landon Donovan. “For whatever reason they were not at their best, and we played very well.”
Shut down Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Make the most of that home field advantage. That’s the Galaxy’s game plan. And, of course, play with an intensity that reflects a solemn truth: if Seattle wins on Sunday, LA’s hopes of claiming the Supporters’ Shield are finished.
“Play better,” said head coach Bruce Arena.