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.
The emergence of Sanna Nyassi on the right flank has bolstered an electric attack that also has benefited from the arrival of Swiss World Cup forward Blaise Nkufo.
Holding midfielder Osvaldo Alonso's return from injury, and subsequent partnership with former Galaxy midfielder Nathan Sturgis, solidified things in the middle.
Jeff Parke's and Patrick Ianni's promotion to starting central defenders secured things on a backline that had been reeling since Jhon Kennedy Hurtado suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in May.
They posted MLS's best record in the second half of the season -- 10-2-3, seven points better than anyone else -- and went 6-0-0 with their first-choice lineup of goalkeeper Kasey Keller, defenders Ianni, Parke, James Riley and Leo Gonzalez, midfielders Alonso and Sturgis, wingers Nyassi and Zakuani, and forwards Nkufo and Fredy Montero.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid acknowledges that what happened a few months ago has no bearing on the playoff matchups, but he says the desire for payback is “the way all the guys feel. They don't take to being beaten, and they were beaten [badly] in both games.”
The Sounders, who did beat L.A. in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal in which both sides used primarily reserve lineups, doesn't need such motivation for the playoffs, Arena says.
“That's child psychology, in my book,” he said. “If we were going to use that on our team, saying we can beat them because [we have before] -- all that's stuff's stupid. This is a new game. The 30 previous games have nothing to do with this game.”