The first step toward another MLS Cup for the Los Angeles Galaxy is a familiar one. The Seattle Sounders would like to finally alter the script to have a chance at their first.
The fourth-seeded Sounders will try eliminate the No. 5 Galaxy from the postseason for the first time Wednesday night in the Western Conference’s knockout round in Seattle.
Los Angeles (14-11-9) has won all four playoff matchups with Seattle (15-13-6), including last year’s West semifinals victory on the way to a third MLS Cup in four seasons.
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The Galaxy have knocked the Sounders out of three of the last five postseasons, but Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena won’t allow that to come into play in his team’s preparation.
"Those things have nothing to do with this game Wednesday, nothing to do with it," Arena told the team’s official website. "I don’t know how you can think of rivalries, three playoff series that’s going to mean anything Wednesday. It has nothing to do with it."
What might mean a bit more is Los Angeles’ 1-4-2 stretch to close the season. The Galaxy were outscored 14-7 in that span lost their last two games 5-2 to Portland and 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City.
The slide dropped the Galaxy to the fifth seed, forcing them to play a do-or-die game on the road where they are 2-8-6.
Seattle is 11-2-4 at home and has put together the league’s longest unbeaten streak at eight. It’s won four times and earned four 1-all draws in that span, one coming at CenturyLink Field against Los Angeles on Oct. 4.
Another good sign is Clint Dempsey’s outburst during a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. Dempsey had managed one goal and five assists in his previous 12 games but broke out for a two goals and an assist against RSL.
Without Dempsey or Obafemi Martins due to injury, suspension or national team duty, the Sounders struggled to score – including a franchise-record 363-minute drought that spanned July and August. Dempsey played once during that six-game stretch and Martins didn’t play at all.
Martins has eight goals and two assists in 10 games since returning from a groin injury Aug. 16.
"Those two guys have been phenomenal, especially as a duo, together," coach Sigi Schmid told the team’s official website. "I know those two guys, when they’re on their game, they’re going to find each other, they’re going to combine."
The Sounders will need to contain Robbie Keane, who kept on scoring through Los Angeles’ skid. He closed the season with five goals in his final four games, finishing third in MLS with 20.
Keane has nine goals and four assists in 13 career games against the Sounders, including playoffs.