One of the prime matchups of the weekend features LA Galaxy hosting Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN). While this is generally a battle between two clubs fighting for spots at the top of the MLS Western Conference, the Sunday matinee will pit two sides that find themselves in much different places at this stage of the playoff push.
Here are Five Things to Know about the match:
U.S. World Cup Alums Aplenty
With so many successful years between them, the Galaxy and Sounders FC have had a number of great players don their colors through the years. Bringing it all back to the MNT, it made us wonder how many LA and Seattle players combined have been a part of a U.S. World Cup roster. The answer is 21 total, with one player having suited up for both sides.
How many can you name? Scroll down for the full list, but start with this hint:
Both (1): Herculez Gomez (2010)
LA Galaxy (15): Chris Albright (2006), Gregg Berhalter (2002, 2006), Edson Buddle (2010), Paul Caligiuri (1990, 1994), Brian Ching (2006), Landon Donovan (2002, 2006, 2010), Robbie Findley (2010), Omar Gonzalez (2014), Cobi Jones (1994, 1998, 2002), Frankie Hejduk (1998, 2002), Alexi Lalas (1994, 1998), Eddie Lewis (2002, 2006), Pablo Mastroeni (2002, 2006), Clint Mathis (2002), Tony Sanneh (2002).
Seattle Sounders FC (5): Clint Dempsey (2006, 2010, 2014), Marcus Hahnemann (2006, 2010), Kasey Keller (1990, 1998, 2002, 2006), Eddie Johnson (2006), DeAndre Yedlin (2014)
West Coast Rivalry
Through a number of contentious playoff battles and the chase for the 2014 Supporters Shield, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC have developed one of the better rivalries in Major League Soccer during the past few years.
With a 9-4-7 advantage, the Galaxy have held the overall regular season edge since Seattle joined MLS in 2009. The clubs have met on four different occasions in the MLS postseason, with the Galaxy advancing three times and twice on the way to MLS Cup victories in 2012 and 2014.
Seattle’s greatest triumphs in the series came in successive years when they narrowly beat LA to the Supporters Shield in 2014, then finally got over the playoff hump when they defeated the Galaxy 3-2 in the Knockout Round of last year’s MLS Cup playoffs.
The two sides have already met three times this season, with the Galaxy using a Robbie Keane strike to earn a 1-0 away win at CenturyLink Field on July 9 before Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Seattle on July 31. Those two games were played around their U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal clash, which saw Seattle lead 2-1 late before Giovanni dos Santos and Lletget combined for three goals in the final 13 minutes to give the Galaxy a 4-2 win on July 20.
Scene Set: LA Galaxy
Despite suffering injuries to some aging stars, the Galaxy have been in fine form this season, losing just one MLS match since June 22 and going 6-1-9 in the process.
A rash of injuries has claimed the likes of Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Jelle van Damme at different times this year and put U.S. international Gyasi Zardes on the shelf at least through the end of the regular season. That led to MNT and Galaxy legend Landon Donovan coming out of retirement earlier this month to aid the club in their playoff push.
Though still weathering the injury storm, the Galaxy find themselves with a chance to clinch an eighth-straight postseason berth with a win against Seattle on Sunday.
Scene Set: Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle hasn’t had as easy a time this season. After its worst start since joining the league in 2009, the club parted ways with its only MLS-era head coach in Sigi Schmid in late July. Since his departure, Sounders FC have found some stability under interim head coach Brian Schmetzer, who has also benefitted from the arrival of Uruguayan international Nicolas Lodeiro in earning a 4-1-3 mark since taking over.
Still, the hole dug at the beginning of the season has made for an uphill battle in making sure they don’t miss the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history. Things haven’t been made any easier with the loss of MNT forward Clint Dempsey due to an irregular heartbeat at the end of August. While Dempsey returned to the training field last week, the timetable for his return to action is unknown.
In the here and now, Seattle sits five points back of the final playoff spot in the West, with every point mattering a great deal at this stage. A win Sunday would be a huge boost, while a loss would likely prove disastrous to their postseason hopes.
Jordan Morris…Still a Rookie
Though he’s been on the MNT radar since late 2014, it’s still sometimes difficult to remember that Jordan Morris is a rookie in MLS. That said, the 22-year-old forward has continued to show why U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann chose to call him in when he was just a sophomore at Stanford.
A sure candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year, Morris headed home his 10th goal of the season in last week’s 1-0 win against Vancouver. The goal was also his fifth game-winner of the campaign, setting a new MLS rookie record.
Morris faced a different pressure this week when he threw out the first pitch before the Seattle Mariners game on Wednesday.
Thanks to the @Mariners for having me today! It was fun to break out the baseball glove again #seattlelove pic.twitter.com/owN3HupQLd— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) September 21, 2016