Sounders FC

L.A. Galaxy focuses on prize

There will be quantifiable firepower on the Qwest Field pitch Sunday, when the Los Angeles Galaxy and Sounders FC kick off their two-game playoff series.

The Galaxy roster features U.S. national team star Landon Donovan, who led Major League Soccer with 16 assists during the just-completed regular season.

Alongside him will be Edson Buddle, also a national team member, who broke through for second place in goals (17), shots (96), shots on goal (43), and game-winning goals (seven).

Los Angeles led the league in assists, was second in goals, shots on goal and goals-against average, and was third in fouls committed.

All that came together to give the Galaxy the league’s best record (18-7-5), and its accompanying Supporters’ Shield and top seeding in the playoffs.

“The Supporters’ Shield was an extra thing that we obviously want,” midfielder David Beckham said. “Obviously, it’s my first trophy with the Galaxy, as well. But we don’t want to finish there. We want to go all the way with the MLS Cup and win that. We went almost all that way last year, but we’re disappointed in that still in our minds from last year. We have to be determined and believe that we can win it.”

Sounders FC finished five places behind L.A. in the league rankings, and their statistical achievements reflect that. The highest finisher among the league’s major statistical categories was Fredy Montero, who tied for fourth with four game-winning assists.

However, Montero dominated in team statistics. He shared the top spot in goal-scoring with Steve Zakuani, with 10 each. And Montero led the Sounders in assists (10), shots (91), shots on goal (34), fouls suffered (60) and fouls committed (44).

“I’m proud to be able to do all of that,” Montero said through a translator. “But my teammates are also out there working really hard every day. I just try to do my best for the whole team and my best as a player.”

Here is what a few other Sounders’ statistical leaders had to say about their achievements:

Zakuani, co-leader in goals: “Ten goals from midfield is, I mean, you can’t ask for more than that. (But) I’m going to try to get better next season. ... I feel I found myself more and more on this team, and I’ve cemented myself in this league as a good player. Last year I was a good young player, this year I just wanted to be a good player.”

James Riley, the team’s iron man with 2,418 minutes played: “Obviously, it’s satisfying. Personally it’s good – to be used so much is definitely good. I think I produced: played consistent, played solid. That’s all you can really ask for.”

Nathan Sturgis, who scored the team’s only converted penalty kick: “We haven’t had too much success, so I guess one was good enough. I think we probably should have had a PK in Houston, so I thought I might get a second. But it was good to get that opportunity.”

The Sounders led the league in fouls suffered, and broke their own MLS home attendance record by drawing 36,173 per game.

“I lived in Tacoma – Seattle/Tacoma – for close to two years,” said L.A. coach Bruce Arena, who played for the Tacoma Tides and coached at the University of Puget Sound. “Even in the ’70s, I thought Seattle was a soccer market. ... I don’t think there’s a finer city for the sport in this country than Seattle.”

ADDED TIME

Reserve goalkeeper Terry Boss trained with the club Friday at Qwest Field, and coach Sigi Schmid said he expects Boss to be available Sunday. ... Ticket sales for the Halloween night match were reported at 34,436 as of Thursday.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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