Well for Sounders fans they are hoping to reverse their 2010 fortunes in matches with LA, they were 0-4-0 in MLS action, but they did get a win over them on their way to their US Open Cup title. In their MLS matches the Sounders only found the back of the net twice, but gave up 10 goals and given their issues scoring goals in the pre-season one have to believe they will be putting a lot of effort on keeping a clean sheet.
The Galaxy are putting all of their eggs into the 2011 basket, the final year of Beckham's contract, a focused Landon Donovan, and Juan Pablo Angel to fill the boots left by Edson leaving to Europe. With an aging roster they simply believe that this is their best chance at winning MLS Cup, 2010 saw then win the Supporters' Shield, but you know they want to lift the Cup this year. LA look again to be a very solid offensive team but can they find a way to more than their typical defend and counter attack, can they find a way to dictate the pace and direction of a match?
I think MLS picked a winner to open the season, last year's best team the LA Galaxy at the league's best crowd Qwest field, but I think scheduling their big opener at the same time as the Champions League Semi-final was a mistake and will divide the TV audience in two.
more after the jump:
I look forward to seeing how the new look Sounders will do in 2011, I think the loss of Nyassi and Sturgis will be felt as both were playing a big part at the end of the season for the team. I love the addition of O'Brian White, and think Michael Tetteh could be the real deal for them. They will start the 2011 season like they ended the 2010 season with a number of injuries that will impact their lineup: OUT: FW Mike Fucito (R adductor strain); FW Nate Jaqua (hip surgery recovery); FW Michael Seamon (R leg neuritis); QUESTIONABLE: MF Steve Zakuani (hip injury); PROBABLE: MF Brad Evans (R hamstring strain). The Sounders projected lineup: Keller, Riley, Hurtado, Parke, Gonzalez, Fernandez, Alonso, Friberg, Neagle, Montero, and Nkufo (from the sounderatheart.com reference card).
For LA the question is can they lift the Cup, anything less than that will be seen as a disappointment to most of their players, staff and fans. It will raise huge questions about David Beckham and his time in MLS, not overall but his ability to lift his team on the pitch. LA added some interesting pieces in the offseason, the two biggest are probably Juan Pablo Angel and Chad Barrett both of whom should make perfect targets for Beckham and Donovan. They also added Frankie Hejduk, Adam Cristman, and Miguel Lopez (on loan), plus their draft picks. They should have no issues scoring goals in 2011, only RSL scored more than they did in 2010 and that was 45 for RSL to 44 for LA. Their defense was top notch as well, giving up only 26 goals last year again second best in MLS to RSL's 20.
Tonight they will deal with injury issues as their injury report looks like this: OUT: FW Adam Cristman (L knee inflammation); Dan Keat (L heel fracture); DOUBTFUL - DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE - GK Donovan Ricketts (R hamstring strain). Then add in the report this morning on ESPN that Juan Pablo Angel will be out of the match tonight as well. Their projected lineup is: Ricketts, Franklin, Leonardo, De la Garza, Dunivant, Beckham, Birchall, Juniho, Stephens, Donovan, and Barrett.
An interesting match-up for sure but I think both teams will show the rust of their first competitive match and I believe that the home town boys will improve on their 2010 results against LA, and pull out a 2-1 win over the Galaxy tonight.
OFF MY SOAPBOX