LA Galaxy face familiar foe in knockout round bout against Seattle

Tonight at 7 PM, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders square off in a game that could finally put a stop to the Galaxy’s late season free fall. After a summer that saw LA make a pair of the splashiest signings since David Beckham, the Galaxy are now fighting to keep their MLS Cup hopes alive in a single game knockout round.

LA has won only once in the seven matches since their memorable 5–1 dismantling of NYCFC. Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Galaxy were somehow still clinging to second place in the Western Conference standings. But by the end of a busy day, they’d plummeted — all the way down to fifth.

LA Galaxy has won only once in seven matches…

Seattle, meanwhile, is trending the opposite direction. The Sounders haven’t lost even once in their last seven games. And although they only chalked up three wins, Seattle fans will take it — after a season that saw their best players sidelined with injuries, this return to form comes at exactly the right time. Seattle’s romp over Real Salt Lake secured the fourth seed, and with it a home-field advantage headed into tonight.

Just how much that home-field advantage is worth is a matter of debate. The Galaxy are absolutely dismal on the road — there’s no other way to put it. But historically they’ve done well at Century Link, especially in the postseason. Just last year LA ended Seattle’s playoff hopes in front of a home crowd of 60,000, on the back of a stunning goal from Juninho.

But while the home-field advantage is surmountable, the Galaxy’s own lackluster offense might not be. When a team adds playmakers like Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos, it’s hard not to expect a beautiful variety of creative attacks. And yet LA’s midfield and forwards have never looked so disconnected. Robbie Keane and dos Santos pair together well, but maybe too well — Keane seems to invariably look for dos Santos on every run, ignoring the considerable talent around him. It’s too predictable, and opposing defenses long ago figured out that they can shut down the Galaxy’s attack by simply sticking close to these two.

It takes time for a team to learn to play together, and even more time when a roster changes as much as the Galaxy’s has this year. Unfortunately for LA, time has run out — and in just a few hours we’ll see whether sheer talent is enough to overcome a Seattle side that’s firing on all cylinders.