Carson, CA (Sports Network) - Seattle Sounders FC will be making its first
appearance in the Western Conference finals on Sunday when the club takes on
defending champions Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.
Seattle made the playoffs in its first three seasons in MLS, but failed to win
a series until this year, dispatching second-seeded Real Salt Lake on
The two teams played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg at CenturyLink Field, but
an 81st-minute goal from Seattle's Mario Martinez was the difference in Salt
"We needed to get over this hump and winning this game is really important for
our development as a team," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said after
Thursday's win. "The setbacks in year's past have fueled this. Getting over
this hurdle today will do oodles for our confidence and will really help us as
we go on to the next series."
While Seattle is making its first appearance in the conference final, the
Galaxy has plenty of experience on the big stage, having reached this point
for the fourth time in as many seasons.
The Galaxy came from a goal down at home to beat Vancouver, 2-1, in the
knockout round before overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Supporters'
Shield winners San Jose.
Los Angeles became the first side to win at Buck Shaw Stadium this season,
bouncing San Jose from the playoffs with a 3-1 win.
Bruce Arena's team looked like anything but defending champions in the first
three months of the season, winning just three of 13 games.
However, Arena believes that since July there has been no better team in MLS
than his Galaxy side.
"We've been the best team in this league since July," Arena said. "I'm happy
nobody's noticed that, which is always good. We were able to hide under the
radar a little bit."
After just three losses over the final 17 MLS games for the Galaxy, Arena's
team will have a tough time sneaking up anyone.
Seattle won the first two meetings between the two sides during the regular
season by a combined score of 6-0, while the Galaxy claimed a 1-0 triumph
against the Sounders in the final contest.
Los Angeles is bidding to become the first team since the Houston Dynamo in
2006-07 to repeat as MLS Cup champions, but they will be up against a Seattle
side that has yielded two goals in its past seven games.
The second leg will take place on Nov. 18 at Seattle.
The Sports Network