2016 MLS Season Preview: Seattle Sounders

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Seattle Sounders could achieve this season.

Seattle Sounders had a solid 2015 campaign, finishing 4th – nine points off top spot – but they will still be disappointed they fell short in the playoffs once again. They reached the Conference Semifinals, before being knocked out on penalties to eventual winners and fierce rivals Portland Timbers. The Sounders will expect nothing less than reaching the playoffs once again in 2016 as head coach Sigi Schmid has made some key additions to his squad. He has lost a talisman in Obafemi Martins but there is plenty to be positive about heading into the new campaign. Seattle ended the 2015 regular season unbeaten in eight games and will now hope to start 2016 in the same rich vein of form.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 4th – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Seattle need to lose less games – it’s as simple as that. They only won two more games than they lost, which ultimately cost them from potentially winning the Western Conference in 2015. The Sounders are a side quite capable of beating any opponent but they mustn’t rely too heavily on their key players. Clint Dempsey is obviously a massive influence on the side, so if in the unfortunate occurrence of him picking up knocks, they have to find a way of still picking up points. Schmid’s side have three of their first five fixtures at CenturyLink Field so they need to make that a fortress once again and get off to a flyer.

Key Changes:

InsTyler Miller – Goalkeeper, Joevin Jones – Defender, Jordan Schweitzer – Midfielder, Michael Farfan – Midfielder, Nathan Sturgis – Midfielder & Jordan Morris – Forward

Outs: Troy Perkins – Goalkeeper, Andres Correa – Defender, Leonardo Gonzalez – Defender, Michael Azira – Midfielder, Gonzalo Pineda – Midfielder, Thomas – Midfielder, Andy Rose – Midfielder, Lamar Neagle – Midfielder, Marco Pappa – Midfielder, Chad Barrett – Forward & Andy Craven – Forward

Key Player:

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Clint Dempsey – Forward – The obvious choice. Dempsey is a standout performer for Seattle and deals amazingly well with the pressure of providing not only for his side, but also for the fans. His 2015 campaign was riddled with injury but the USMNT star was highly influential in the games he featured in – contributing to an average of a goal or assist per game (ten goals and ten assists in his 20 appearances). Seattle only lost three of the 20 games in which Dempsey played in so we can see how much he means to his side.

One to Watch:

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Jordan Morris – Forward – There is a lot of expectation on the new signing. He has penned the highest paid contact for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history. With the departure of Obafemi Martins, Morris has some huge boots to fill, but that could play to his advantage and the youngster could quite quickly become a fan favourite for Sounders. Morris is expected to come in and play on the right side of the attack and get at opposition defenders with his pace from day one.

Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 4th – We expect another solid season from Seattle and they should make a playoff spot quite comfortably. Sounders fans may well be expecting more than 4th from their side but as we keep mentioning the Western Conference is extremely competitive. The loss of Martins may have some impact on Sounders but we don’t consider it to be crippling to them and expect a repeat of last season’s finish in the regular season.

What are you expecting from Seattle Sounders in 2016?


Sigi Schmid “very proud” after Sounders’ 2-2 draw with Club America

The CONCACAF Champions League sprung back into life on Tuesday night with the first legs of the quarterfinals getting underway. Seattle Sounders earned a 2-2 draw at home to Club America in what was their first competitive match of 2016, with Clint Dempsey scoring both of the Sounders’ goals.

Seattle had the daunting prospect of hosting reigning champions Club America in a tricky looking game but will be pleased with their performance, even if the result wasn’t what they wanted.

Dempsey’s performance in particular will have delighted the capacity crowd of 42,836 at CenturyLink Field – a club record for a CONCACAF Champions League match – with the forward looking very sharp on either side of the ball.

His excellent free-kick before halftime put Seattle in front, before a very quick response from the Liga MX giants made it 1-1 at the break. Dempsey then headed the Rave Green back in front in the 52nd minute, only for Oribe Peralta to net a valuable second goal for Club America.

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the performance of his players, despite letting a lead go twice at home, and thinks there are positives to take from the game heading into the second-leg.

“Obviously there are things we want to get better at moving forward, and we will,” he said after the game. “For this stage of our season, and for where they are in their season, and the quality of team they are, I thought we showed well. I was very proud with what our guys did.

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“I think Clint played very well. He’s coming off the left for us – we were trying to give him some spaces there in the first half – and we needed [Andreas] Ivanschitz to push a little wider left to allow Clint to stay up higher. In the second half, he was able to stay higher, so more of his touches came in the attacking end of the field. Those are tweaks in the system that we are working on and getting better with.”

Seattle will travel to Mexico for the second-leg of their clash with Club America next Wednesday before hosting Sporting KC in their 2016 MLS opener on Sunday, March 6.

Were you impressed with Seattle’s performance against Club America on Tuesday night?

*Header image courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC. Photo taken by Jane Gershovich.

Getting Stuck In: Should they stay or should they go?

The Getting Stuck In column delves into some of the more intriguing aspects in US Soccer and MLS, shining a light on the stories regarding the league’s teams and its most-loved characters. This week Dave Lewis looks into whether American players should strive to play in Europe or keep their feet grounded on home soil…

When Jurgen Klinsmann claimed that he wanted American players to push themselves to play at the highest level, he intentionally took a jab at MLS. Actually, it was more like a slap. The American soccer landscape shook. Just this week, Klinsmann’s second in command Andi Herzog was quoted as saying: “Our goal is to get as many players to Europe as possible.”

How could Klinsy dismiss MLS this way? I mean, this is his adopted country where he gets his tan and laid back SoCal vibe. And with so many MLS players on his January roster (20), why alienate them? How does that help his cause?

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It’s no secret Europe is the highest level when it comes to soccer, with Champions League football being the toughest competition out there. And Helen Keller could see that MLS is nowhere near the level of Europe in general. That being said, the American player has always faced a dilemma: ‘Do I stay in the States and play college, get drafted by an MLS team and maybe get a shot in Europe later, or do I try and ply my trade in Europe right away (given the chance)?’

So many players have made the wrong choice. They either went too early or too late to Europe. Or they never go at all, leaving US fans wondering, what if.

Landon Donovan, arguably America’s finest footballer, did go to Europe but was all over the map – literally. His journey is the best example of what American footballers face; chaos and confusion.  He was brave and bold by going over to Germany as a teenager, playing with Bayer Leverkusen. Most players would recognize this as a dream – the Bundesliga, a big club, living in Germany – But he just never adjusted to the German culture. Donovan was just homesick (or maybe a victim of an unwritten anti-US bias). He was subsequently loaned to San Jose in MLS. When given another chance with Leverkusen years later, he lasted just seven games before getting homesick again.

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Many US fans dubbed Donovan a bust in Europe despite having won two MLS Cups before the age of 23. It’s obvious LD went too young. But when Bayern Munich and his former Cal pal and Bayern manager Jurgen Klinsmann called in his late twenties, well, we all thought this was it. LD will do work for the Bavarian giants. But he worked for only six miserable games on loan. He would go on to have two incredible loan spells with Everton near the end of his career, that included winning a player of the month honour. His performances would leave me and my buddy Eric glued to the television going bananas with pride over how he looked like a legit Premier League player. But the verdict on LD’s career has to be MLS rich, European poor.

Players are plucked at different points from MLS rosters with varying degrees of success. Clint Dempsey (Revs) was young. Brian McBride (Crew) was old. And Carlos Bocanegra (Fire) was somewhere in between. They all are legends with Fulham so their timing was right. But the timing for players like Jozy Altidore was probably all wrong.

Jozy did well with the Red Bulls (37 games and 15 goals) and caught Villarreal’s attention while still a teenager. He was raw, but again Helen Keller could have seen he had talent. After a few loan spells he went to Hull and laid an egg: 1 goal in 28 appearances. Then, after crushing the Dutch League (my grandmother could score in that league and she has no left foot), he went to Sunderland and laid an even bigger egg: 1 goal in 42. As a result, most would label him a European catastrophe.

So Jozy went back to MLS where maybe he belonged all along. Some think Jozy got a fair chance in Europe. But some would say the deck was stacked against him from the start. Hull and Sunderland were bottom-dwelling teams clawing their way to stay up. Most managers don’t trust unknown commodities like US players to save their clubs and their jobs.

Fair? Not really. US players may lack technical skills and flair but they work hard, are extremely fit and are total professionals. That’s why when ex-Sounder DeAndre Yedlin got subbed after 18 minutes for Sunderland in December I thought: “Man, he sure wasn’t ready for England, and he sure didn’t deserve that.”

So now, with the January transfer window open, I thought I would look at three US players linked with European moves and evaluate whether they should stay in MLS or listen to Klinsy.

Matt Miazga – Age 20 – Central Defender – New York Red Bulls

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Rumors: The Polish-American (hasn’t decided which national team to play for) was linked in the fall to Chelsea, Leicester, Stoke and Swansea.

What he does well: Strong in the air, exceptional pace for his size and defends set pieces like a warrior.

What he needs to work on: Ball at his feet, less fouling and temper.

Stay or go?: Will he sit on a bench in Europe if he goes? If he goes to the Prem, most likely. Germany? Less likely. His game needs to develop and getting matches under his belt in MLS (only 34 appearances so far) defending against the likes of Drogba, Villa, Kamara, Giovinco and Keane can’t hurt. STAY (for now)!


Jordan Morris – Age 21 – Forward – Unattached

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Rumors: Is training with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen this month but could sign with his hometown club, Seattle Sounders, who own his MLS rights.

What he does well: Bullish approach to the game like a young Wayne Rooney; physically gifted with good speed.

What he needs to work on: Defense, pro experience

Stay or go?: This is a strange case. Usually a player like Morris, who just finished his junior year at Stanford, would go to MLS. But he already has a goal and seven caps for the national team, which is unheard of for a college player. He wants to play in Europe. His tenacity and high IQ would work well in Germany. GO!


Gyasi Zardes – Age 24 – Forward/winger – LA Galaxy

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Rumors: The US international has been linked to Reading in the Championship and Belgian side Gent, while more recently there was an offer from an unnamed Championship side for $3 million.

What he does well: Big, strong and powerful, runs well down the flanks, links well with midfielders.

What he needs to work on: Passing.

Stay or go?: In 2014 he was a goal-scoring machine for the Galaxy. Struggled a bit in 2015. But he had a breakout year with the national team as Klinsmann used him as a winger. This is a tough call. Is the Championship that much better than MLS (a debate for another day)? Will he develop playing in a smaller league like in Belgium? He is 24, making decent money and playing for an MLS glamour club. STAY!

GALLERY: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s first leg playoff win over FC Dallas

Seattle Sounders managed to rally from a goal down to win the first leg of their MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal with FC Dallas last night.

Fine goals from Andreas Ivanschitz and Clint Dempsey turned the tie on its head after Fabian Castillo gave Dallas an early lead with an important away goal.

The second leg will be played at Toyota Stadium next Sunday night with the winner advancing to the Western Conference final against either Portland or Vancouver.

Check out exclusive photos from the game at CenturyLink Field below, courtesy of Denise McCooey.

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Dempsey magic inspires Seattle to first leg comeback win over Dallas

The Seattle Sounders met FC Dallas in the final MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinal of Sunday’s four-game card at CenturyLink Field, with the Western Conference rivals putting on a show.

Seattle eventually sealed the all-important first-leg win 2-1 thanks to a stunning late Clint Dempsey free-kick to give the Sounders the advantage in the tie heading into next week’s second leg in Dallas.

But things didn’t start so well for the home side as Fabian Castillo fired FC Dallas in front after just 18 minutes. He latched on to a fine Mauro Diaz pass to finish, moments after Dempsey wanted a penalty at the other end.

Seattle pressed for an equaliser but couldn’t seem to beat Jesse Gonzalez in the Dallas goal. But Andreas Ivanschitz had other ideas as he fired life back into the Sounders on 67 minutes.

The Austrian midfielder beat three Dallas players before firing a sublime left-footed shot into the bottom right corner, sending the roof off of CenturyLink Field.

The atmosphere then ramped up and Seattle managed to complete their comeback when Dempsey fired a stunning free-kick into the top corner just four minutes from time.

Dallas will feel hard done by but they have what could prove to be a vital away goal and will now need to win the game at Toyota Stadium next Sunday night.

The two sides will meet in the second leg at 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT) next Sunday evening with a place in the conference final against either Portland or Vancouver up for grabs.

What did you make of the game in Seattle? Did the Sounders deserve the win?

GALLERY: Exclusive images from Seattle’s 3-2 playoff win over LA Galaxy

Seattle Sounders beat LA Galaxy in one of 2015’s most entertaining MLS games as the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs got underway in the best way possible on Wednesday night.

A flurry of early goals set the tone for an attacking game between two of the league’s most dangerous teams.

It was Seattle who prevailed at CenturyLink Field though as they beat the reigning champions 3-2 thanks to goals from Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and Erik Friberg.

LA’s ongoing struggles away from home once again let them down and they will now be left to plan for next season after exiting the playoffs at the first hurdle, despite goals from Sebastian Lletget and Gyasi Zardes.

Check out some exclusive photos from the game in Seattle on Wednesday night below, courtesy of our Sounders photographer Denise McCooey.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy  

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, October 4 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 1/1  – Draw 12/5 – LA Galaxy 5/2

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders entertain Western Conference rivals L.A Galaxy in a standout fixture this weekend in a game not to be missed.

Sounders sit 4th in the Western Conference, on 46 points, trailing leaders Galaxy by four points, and will want to take a positive result from this one to avoid any late slip-ups in the race for a playoff spot.

They come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw away against Sporting Kansas City, and are unbeaten in their last five.

Sounders are yet to beat Galaxy this season and will hope that their recent form against their opponents at home, winning three of the last five at CenturyLink Field, will continue.

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LA Galaxy lead the Western Conference and the race for the Supporters’ Shield, so they have a lot to play for here.

They come into the game off the back of their 3-2 home win against FC Dallas, which ended their three game winless run.

Galaxy will hope their poor run of form away from home will not cost them in this tie, but know they face a tough task against Sounders forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.

LA’s big-game players need to step up once again this week if they are to take all three points here. Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard all scored last weekend and the three of them will be looking to cause problems for the Sounders defence.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders are expecting to be without Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven. They have five players who are one away from suspension; Zach Scott, Andy Scott, Andy Rose, Gonzalo Pineda, Oneil Fisher and Brad Evans.

LA Galaxy have three injury concerns. Brian Perk remains out while Todd Dunivant and Baggio Husidic are doubts. They have no players nearing suspension.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five in MLS: W/W/D/W/D

LA Galaxy’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have failed to win 19 of their last 21 away matches in MLS.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Sounders goal machine has netted 14 in 18 appearances this season and has eight in his last eight, as ever, we can expect him to be a nightmare for the opposition defenders.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 LA Galaxy – Sounders to edge this one and take advantage of a Galaxy side who have struggled on the road.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders 

Venue: Sporting Park – Sunday, September 27 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle Sounders 2/1

Match Preview

Saturday night sees fourth play fifth in the Western Conference as Sporting Kansas City host the Seattle Sounders at Sporting Park. Sporting KC come into the game in a dismal run of form with just one win in seven.

They have been imperious at home, however, managing to only lose once as they remain strong contenders for the MLS Cup, so long as they can hold on to their playoff spot.

It’s interesting to note that SKC boasted the best points-per-game record in MLS earlier in the season and looked to be on course for the Supporters’ Shield title this year.

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They may not be battling at the top end now with four weeks to go but a US Open Cup final is in store and they will be planning for a successful playoff run too.

Sporting Kansas City’s record in MLS: P29 – W12 – D8 – L9

Seattle have had a whirlwind season that has been hindered by injuries. Star men Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are seemingly back to full fitness and ready for the playoffs now. Their absences have cost Seattle dearly but with them both in the side, the Sounders are a real force.

At one point it looked like the Sounders wouldn’t make the playoffs but they remain three points behind the Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps and are putting some solid form together now.

They remain a strong outfit in MLS and should be a force to fear in the playoffs, providing their key men can stay fit.

Seattle Sounders’ record in MLS: P30 – W14 – D3 – L13 

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are still missing Ike Opara with a ruptured achilles tendon, while Roger Espinoza is also out with an ankle fracture. Amobi Okugo and Tim Melia are both doubtful.

Seattle Sounders are without three players through injury. Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven are all set to play no part through respective injuries.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Seattle have failed to score in the two previous meetings between the two sides so far this year.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – Easily the most influential player on the pitch in terms of his vast experience and eye for goal this season. As well as ten goals, he also has ten assists. It’s been an impressive season for Feilhaber and we expect him to be key on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Should be an entertaining game providing a lot of attacking play as both sides tend to not be afraid to get forward. A low scoring draw is what we’ve gone for.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC 

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, September 5 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 5/6  – Draw 13/5 – Toronto 16/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome Toronto to CenturyLink Field on Saturday with both sides battling for playoff places.

Sounders are 6th on 38 points in the Western Conference and their recent shaky form has resulted in them only just sitting in a playoff spot.

Sigi Schmid’s side have won just three of their last 12 regular season games but come into this one off the back of a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers.

With San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo applying the pressure on Sounders, Schmid is more than aware his side cannot afford anymore sloppy performances and this is a game they have to take points from.

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Toronto have been in solid form, winning their last two on the bounce and have registered three wins in their last five outings.

Greg Vanney’s side have struggled to find form on the road and haven’t won in their last five attempts away from home.

Toronto are sitting 4th in the Eastern Conference on 37 points and aren’t out of the running to contest for the Supporters’ Shield, but their main aim will be to finish the season with a good run of form and head into the playoffs full of confidence.

They come into the game off the back of a 2-1 home win against Montreal Impact and will feel they have a chance of upsetting Sounders but know this will be a tough task.

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Team News

Seattle have six injury concerns heading into this tie. Andreas Correa, Andy Craven and Damion Lowe are all out, while Leonardo Gonzalez, Clint Dempsey and Andreas Ivanschitz are all doubts. Osvaldo Alonso and Andy Rose are both one caution away from suspension. While Roman Torres, Marco Pappa and Victor Mansaray are away on international duty

Toronto also have six injury concerns for this one. Mark Bloom remains out, but their main concern will be whether or not key man Sebastian Giovinco will feature as he is a doubt. Benoit Cheyrou, Jackson, Damien Perquis and Nick Hagglund are also all doubts. Jozy Altidore is away on international duty with the USMNT, while Colleen Warner is suspended.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five in MLS: L/L/W/L/W

Toronto’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Toronto have failed to win any of their last five away ties in MLS and have conceded at least three in all of those games.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Sounders forward has netted an impressive ten goals in 14 appearances this season and it has left us wondering how much better things could be if he had been fit all campaign.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Toronto – Sounders to make home advantage count and beat a Toronto side who have struggled of late on the road.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, August 9 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 1)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/7 – Draw 3/1 – Seattle 9/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host the Seattle Sounders in the latest battle between two of the best sides in MLS on Sunday night, with both looking to climb the Western Conference and regain their superiority as the season edges closer to the playoffs.

LA ended their 15-game winless road streak last weekend, beating the Colorado Rapids 3-1, and will be confident of following that up with another win here as their home form has been highly impressive this year.

Bruce Arena’s team have lost just one of their 12 home games this season and have won each of their last four, scoring 19 times in those games. When on form, they are impossible to beat and will expect to end Sunday with another three points.

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They are still two points off the Vancouver Whitecaps in top spot in the West, but sit five points clear of Seattle in sixth.

The Sounders have been in horrendous form by their high standards of late, losing seven of their last eight in MLS. That has seen them slip down the standings and it’s imperative they turn things around quickly to have a good chance of making the playoffs.

Clint Dempsey’s return to the side last weekend couldn’t help fix the problems on the pitch as they lost 3-0 at home to Vancouver, extending their run of games without scoring to four – the worst run in the club’s history.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps Clint Dempsey

The previous meeting this season ended 1-0 to the Galaxy at StubHub Center back in April as a first-half Alan Gordon goal separated the sides. Seattle will be looking to win in LA for the first time in ten attempts but form suggests that is unlikely this weekend.

Team News

LA Galaxy remain without Brian Perk, while Jose Villarreal, Baggio Husidic and Todd Dunivant are all still doubts. Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane should both play and could be joined by new DP Giovani Dos Santos, as he is in contention to make his debut.

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Seattle travel to LA without Andy Craven, Andres Correa and Osvaldo Alonso, while Obafemi Martins is a doubt but looks to be closing in on a return to the side after two months out.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have scored at least four goals in each of their last four home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Irish forward has netted a hat-trick in both of the Galaxy’s last two home games and will look to pile misery on a hapless Sounders side this weekend.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 3-0 Seattle Sounders – Difficult to see any outcome other than a Galaxy win here. LA are a real force at home and the Sounders come into the game in awful form. Their fortunes are unlikely to change at StubHub Center as LA look to close in on top spot in the Western Conference.