Los Angeles Soccer: Freddie Ljungberg
Landon Donovan takes the leadership role for L.A., and Seattle looks for Fredy Montero to call the shots.
WHAT: Sunday's opener in a home-and-home, first-round Major League Soccer playoff series between the L.A. Galaxy (18-7-5) -- the Western Conference champion, top-seeded team and winner of the Supporters' Shield for best regular-season record in the league -- and Seattle Sounders FC (14-10-6), the West's No. 4-seeded team.WHERE: Qwest Field in Seattle, with about 40,000 fans expected.
WATCH: ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at 5 p.m.
HISTORY: The series is even, at 2-2-1 in all meetings, since the Sounders joined MLS last season -- there also were two U.S. Open Cup meetings with Sounders-related teams, both Galaxy victories, when Seattle was in the second-tier league. The Galaxy twice won this season in league matches (4-0 on May 8 in Seattle, 3-1 on July 4 in Carson). Seattle captured a U.S. Open Cup showdown (2-0 on July 7 in Tukwila, Wash.), with both teams fielding largely reserve lineups.
CONNECTIONS: It's pretty much one-way traffic here. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid (Torrance/Bishop Montgomery HS and UCLA) was the Galaxy's coach from 1999 to 2004, guiding them to the 2002 MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup titles. … Reserve midfielder Peter Vagenas (Pasadena/St. Francis HS and UCLA) played in 183 MLS games (plus 19 playoff encounters) from 2000 to 2008, captaining the 2005 MLS Cup/U.S. Open Cup winners. … Reserve defender Tyrone Marshall also was part of both Galaxy MLS Cup winners; the Jamaican national-teamer was in L.A. from 2002 to 2007. … Reserve forward Nate Jaqua spent 10 games with the Galaxy in 2007, scoring twice. … Starting midfielder Nathan Sturgis started his pro career in Carson, playing 24 times in league games for the Galaxy in 2006-07.
The Galaxy's dominance of its series with Seattle this season has some of the Sounders clamoring for revenge. Bruce Arena doesn't think a whole lot of that kind of talk.
L.A.'s 4-0 rout May 8 at Qwest Field was comprehensive. The 3-1 triumph July 4 at Home Depot Center was nearly as one-sided.
“I wanted L.A. from the beginning,” Sounders winger Steve Zakuani said earlier this week in The Seattle Times. “Of course, it's going to be very tough. They beat us twice in the regular season, but I think we owe them one, and we're ready.”
The Sounders of May and July bear little resemblance to today's team:
- Gone is Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, sent to Chicago in a midseason trade after dividing the Sounders' locker room.