The series between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders has been rather one-sided of late. The return of Landon Donovan could make it even more so.
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With Donovan expected back in Los Angeles’ lineup, the Galaxy seek their sixth straight victory over the Sounders, who hope to close the gap between the teams in the Western Conference on Monday night.
The Galaxy (9-2-8) lead MLS with 35 points and are unbeaten in their last 10 after a scoreless draw with San Jose last Monday.
Los Angeles defeated Seattle 1-0 in its season opener March 15, its fifth straight win in the series which includes a pair of 2010 playoff victories that eliminated the Sounders. The Galaxy have outscored Seattle 11-2 during the streak.
"I think they’re going to want to come in here and kill us," Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez told the team’s official website. "They definitely have some things on their mind."
The Sounders (8-4-7), though, may be more focused on trying to continue their recent hot play than on who their opponent is. They’ve won a season-high three straight and are 4-0-2 in their last six.
A victory would pull Seattle to within one point of Los Angeles.
"Beyond the history that we’ve had, they’re right on our tail in the West, and that’s important," defender Todd Dunivant said. "They’ve had three wins in a row and that’s allowed them to climb the standings really quickly. They’re right with us now; that’s good for the league and good for this game."
Donovan’s return from U.S. national team duty should be good for Los Angeles. He is tied for the league lead with eight goals, and the Galaxy have struggled to score during their unbeaten run, scoring one or no goals seven times in that span.
"Anytime you have the best player in the league returning to the team, it helps," defender Gregg Berhalter told the team’s website. "We’re excited to have him back. He’s a big part of the team."
Los Angeles went 1-0-3 without Donovan while he played in the Gold Cup.
"He’s been gone for about a month, but hopefully we can get him back into the swing of things quicker," coach Bruce Arena told the Galaxy’s website. "We didn’t win enough (without him), but we didn’t lose any either."
Midfielder David Beckham being out hasn’t helped matters, and the Galaxy will play their third straight game without him due to a bad back.
Los Angeles goalkeeper Brian Perk will make his MLS debut with starter Donovan Ricketts out with a broken arm and backup Josh Saunders suspended after receiving a red card in the latest match.
Perk will be facing a Seattle team that has totaled six goals in the last two games. Tyson Wahl and Alvaro Fernandez scored six minutes apart in the first half of a 2-1 victory over New England last Sunday.
”When you can get goals from different places, you’re a harder team to figure out,” coach Sigi Schmid said. ”We’ve scored goals this year on set pieces, the service has been better and guys have been practicing them more. And we’re encouraging some guys who didn’t want to step up and do it, like Tyson. We said, ‘Hey, you can do it, you’re a lefty, and this is a ball you can hit.’"