Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy have a number of days to fix any remaining niggles ahead of their 2012 MLS Western Conference Championship second leg with Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. One player that is feeling a bit out of it is midfielder Juninho, who injured his Achilles and had to be subbed for Marcelo Sarvas in the first leg at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
“I’m feeling a little bit sad, it’s my Achilles that is hurt again, it’s very hard to play a lot of games with the injury and I’m feeling it in the best part of playoffs, so it is sad,” Juninho told Adam Serrano of LAGalaxy.com. “But I have a long week off, but I hope to be better for the next game. I’m going to continue my treatment and talk with the doctors and the training staff.”
Despite that and a hammy by team captain Landon Donovan, the Galaxy are in prime position to get a chance at defending their MLS Cup. The reason? Everyone was doing the work, the boss said this past weekend.
“The whole group tonight,” Arena told MLSSoccer.com’s Scott French, “this was one of those nights where every player was on form.
““Christian [Wilhelmsson] played very well tonight. I think the combination play with him and [David] Beckham and [Landon] Donovan and [Robbie] Keane and [Mike] Magee was excellent. They had a good night and they were dangerous. Obviously the goal at the end of the half was certainly huge and made a big difference. Seattle pressed to get a goal, open things up and gave some talented players a little bit of room to help us get the second and third goals.”
Out of all the players that were on form, the best of the bunch was Robbie Keane, who had two goals and an assist to lead the Galaxy.
“He’s put together as good a second half of the year as anyone,” defender Todd Dunivant told reporters. “He’s a guy that has so much quality that if you give him enough opportunities and give him the service that he needs, he’s going to punish teams, and he’s been doing that.”
As for Keane, he is fully aware that the job is far from done.
“The job is only half done,” Keane told Serrano. “If the lads think for one second that this is over, they may think again because as we know in football, it’s a funny ol’ game and anything can happen.
“We’ll enjoy tonight and enjoy the win, but as soon as we’re back in the training pitch, our focus is on next Sunday.”
A focal point for next week will be the importance of good ball movement and possession. Solid passing and great sequences will be tantamount to Los Angeles maintaining their advantage over the Sounders, who are aiming for their first-ever MLS Cup Final appearance.
“I think our movement has changed,” Beckham told Serrano. “Before the San Jose game away, our movement and our fitness maybe wasn’t as good, but I think we’ve picked it up.
“We’ve realized that if we want to go all the way in this competition we have to pick it up. The standards had to be higher, and I think that we’ve brought our standards higher, and we need to keep them there.”
And LA’s No. 23 is fully aware that the Galaxy are heading into CenturyLink Field with a big, big chip on their shoulders.
“We may have put ourselves in a great position tonight,” Beckham added. “but last time we played in Seattle we got beat 4-0, well second to last time we played there, so we know that they can score goals there, we know they’re dangerous there.
“We just have to do our job.”
Kickoff between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN.