Plans continue for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy as they get ready for the second leg of the 2012 MLS Western Conference Championship with the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN, TSN and ESPN Deportes.
Central defender A.J. DeLaGarza will most likely not start on Sunday but will be available for the MLS Cup Final if the Galaxy are able to hold on and prevail on aggregate.
his has been the worse injury that I’ve ever had,” said DeLaGarza to Adam Serrano of LAGalaxy.com. “Being out six weeks is a long time for me so it’s different and I handle it alright at times, but sometimes you want to rush it and sometimes you get down on yourself because you want to help the team, but they’re winning right now. All I can do is support them, I’m happy because what they’ve been able to do is tremendous. When this team wants to turn it on, I don’t think many teams could stop us.
“I said four weeks I’ll be back. That’s my mindset obviously; I guess that I guessed wrong. At around three weeks when I wasn’t running and it wasn’t getting much better, that’s when I was getting down on myself, but it takes time to heal.”
One player that will be available this Sunday is midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson, who had an improved performance, recording an assist on Robbie Keane’s second goal in the Galaxy’s 3-0 victory over the Sounders.
“You don’t really know what it’s like until you are here and see what kind of pressures and expectations are on the team,” Wilhelmsson told LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan. “If you play in the (UEFA) Champions League or Europa League, they’re kind of cup games, kind of similar games. We know these are knockout games, you play home and way. It’s quite similar to that.
“I love big games. I love it when it comes down to this kind of ending. It’s the same as the regular season when it’s tight at the top and you have a chance to reach the Champions League or win the league. You enjoy those games.”
The Galaxy are aware that they must, at all costs, prevent the Sounders from scoring in bunches, which is a tendency of their hosts this season. With Mauro Rosales potentially coming back to the team, Los Angeles are on red alert.
“For them, they have confidence. They know how close they were last year to coming from a 3-0 deficit,” Franklin told Morgan. “We know it’s going to be a tough game Sunday.
“We don’t want to go out and obviously open ourselves up. We know they’re going to be throwing numbers up front. It’s all about sticking to our game plan and making sure we’re not opening up big holes for them to get through.”
And if there is one player that must stop the Sounders from scoring in spurts, it’s goalkeeper Josh Saunders. His consistent leadership and rock-solid reliability during the postseason has been a boon for the entire Galaxy organization, and these intangibles will be needed on Sunday.
“If you saw [Seattle] play Salt Lake last year, we expect a raucous game, they’re going to come out and they’re going to shoot a lot, cross the ball a lot and get the ball in front of goal,” said Saunders to Serrano. “It’s just defending the goal, go forward, keeping the ball and try to attack them as well.
“You have to approach the game the same way that you do any other one this year. I’ve always advocated that. You can’t get away from it. If you watch our team, we’re dangerous going forward, dangerous keeping the ball and we don’t want to get away from it.”