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With seven MLS Cups between them, these are two of the biggest franchises in the MLS but will be a bit underwhelmed with how they’ve gone about this season. LA Galaxy are in sixth place on the Western Conference table, whereas Seattle Sounders are currently outside the playoffs spots in ninth place after suffering losses in their last two matches.
The two sides share an interesting history, having played each other 44 times. Seattle Sounders are just ahead in the head-to-head with 17 wins to LA Galaxy’s 15. 12 of the games have also ended in a draw.
There isn’t a lot between these teams and neither have been convincing in their displays all year. A draw seems like the most likely outcome.
The two sides last faced each other in a thrilling 3-2 encounter back in March. The Seattle Sounders came out on top on that day. Chicharito gave LA Galaxy the lead in the 6th minute before the Sounders staged a comeback that saw them take a 2-1 lead at half-time.
LA Galaxy quickly equalized after the break thanks to a strike from Douglas Costa but they had no reply to Xavier Arega’s goal in the 72nd minute. The Sounders could consider themselves fortunate, having had just 39 percent of the possession and being on the end of 14 shots but they were extremely clinical on the day, getting four of their eight shots on target, which turned out to be the difference.
The LA Galaxy’s 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps will have given them a massive uplift heading into the match against Seattle Sounders, against whom they’ve had a poor record in the recent past.
LA Galaxy scored four goals in the first half to kill to tie, which included a penalty for Chicharito but Samuel Grandsir stole the headlines in this match with a first-half brace. The five times MLS champions now sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings and have two games to spare compared to most of the teams around them on the table.
The two games to spare aren’t the only positive signs if you’re a LA Galaxy. Other than local rivals, LAFC, no team has got a better expected goal differential (expected goals – expected goals against) than LA Galaxy in the Western Conference at +8.6. This suggests that the performances have been fairly good but the team has struggled to live up to it.
The biggest issue here seems to be finishing chances. LA Galaxy have an expected goal value of 42.2 but have only scored 37 goals. It’s rare to see teams underperforming on their expected goals to such an extent. Simply getting a more clinical striker doesn’t always solve the situation either because a clinical striker might not help the team create as many chances. The manager and players need to get together and start believing in themselves a bit more in front of goal by looking for these encouraging signs.
Kevin Cabral seems like the player most in need of some finishing lessons and some advice because he’s had an expected goal value of 4.3 this season but only scored once in 23 matches. Javier Hernandez, being a poacher for most of his career, hasn’t always been the best at finishing his chances either but has always got on the end of good shots. He’s scored 10 goals so far this season with an expected goal value of 11.2. The two need to be just a little more clinical, especially if they make the playoffs, where the margins are much smaller.
Left-back Jorge Villafana has been out since March with a knee issue and undergone surgery. There is no expected return date.
Seattle Sounders FC are now on a worrying run of form that might see them not make the playoffs. The Sounders became the first MLS side to win the CONCACAF Champions League this season but the good news has ended there for the two-time MLS champions this season.
They’ve lost three of their last four matches with the latest 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. The Sounders have been making it to the playoffs every year since 2009 and can’t afford to drop more points if they want to keep that run going. The manner of the loss to Real Salt Lake will also hurt with the winner coming two minutes after the team had equalized. A fragility seems to be growing at the club.
Despite finding themselves in 9th place on the Western Conference table at the moment, they’ve got a game to spare compared to the two sides that are just ahead of them and are only one point behind their upcoming opponents, LA Galaxy. The difference between the team in 3rd and 9th isn’t great and there are enough games left to go on a little run but that run has to start now.
The Sounders seem to not be capable of hanging on and going the distance. They’ve won 10 games, which isn’t too bad but have lost 13 and drawn only two. Only two other teams in the conference have lost more games. A few draws would have been invaluable in hindsight but this suggests that the team can’t seem to show up in times of adversity. They seem to either win nicely or lose altogether. The management and team need to become aware of this and go back to perhaps becoming a side that is tough to beat before they can become a bit more expansive.
Central midfielder, Joao Pualo, got a cruciate ligament rupture in early May and has been out for a while. Ober Vargas, the 17-year-old midfielder, has had a back injury since June.
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|Teams||Los Angeles Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders|
|Location||Dignity Health Sports Park|
|Time||Friday, August 19 at 10 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, ESPN Deportes|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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