If Sounders FC doesn’t score at least three goals Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy, its season is over.
And difficult as that is, three goals won’t necessarily be enough.
If L.A. scores even one goal, then the Sounders need four – which they did only three times this Major League Soccer season.
If L.A. scores twice, then the Sounders need five – which they managed only once.
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And so on.
Coach Sigi Schmid was asked Wednesday which he was more concerned about: his club’s ability to score three times, or its ability to hold the Galaxy to zero.
“Well, we’ve got to do both,” he said.
Using the 34-game MLS regular season as a gauge, the home team’s targets on each side of the CenturyLink Field scoreboard are equally rare.
Seattle scored three or more goals five times – once against the Galaxy.
Los Angeles was shut out five times – twice by the Sounders.
However, those numbers were reversed in the first leg of this Western Conference final, as the Galaxy opened the aggregate-score series with a 3-0 win this past Sunday at Los Angeles.
“We leaked goals last game,” defender Jeff Parke said. “That was really disappointing. It was bad on our part, and it’s something that we can’t do. If we can play to zero then we give our team a fighting chance, and that’s the first part we have to work on.”
Schmid indicated he isn’t planning to open with any dramatic tactical changes to increase offense, such as inserting a third forward.
He said his team isn’t used to playing that way. Beyond that, he is trying to stress to his players that they shouldn’t pressure themselves to score quickly or in bunches. He believes it is more productive to approach that three-goal mouthful in smaller bites.
“In games where you score a lot of goals like that, sometimes you get a big goal in the run of the game,” Schmid said. “Maybe you get an outstanding goal, maybe you get a goal that is a little bit of good fortune to it – maybe it’s a deflection or something like that. Usually, you get a goal that’s involved in a set piece somewhere along the line – either a free kick or a corner.
“So, you need to get goals from different sources. But you need to keep believing, you need to keep working, you need to keep fighting.”
If the Sounders make up the three-goal deficit in regulation, the game will go to 30 minutes of added time. If the aggregate tie remains, the series will be settled by penalty kicks.
One of Seattle’s problems is that the Galaxy’s normal game involves absorbing pressure, waiting for the attacking team to stretch out of shape and then making them pay. That makes them a particularly problematic opponent for big comebacks.
“They’re a team that likes to sit back and counter anyway,” Schmid said. “That’s their natural style of play. If you look at the first game and you look at the goals that we took, the last two really were goals off the counter. And so us having to force the issue plays into their hands a little bit, allows them to use that strength. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re not susceptible to the counter the way that we were the last game and that we do a better job of taking our possession and making it goal-dangerous.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer