No Pressure: LA Galaxy confident and relaxed ahead of Supporters' Shield-deciding clash with Seattle
CARSON, Calif. -Seattle Sounders FC boast one of the most electric and intimidating stadium atmospheres in Major League Soccer, but the roaring crowds at CenturyLink Field have done little to deter the LA Galaxy from success in Seattle.
In MLS regular season and postseason competition, the Galaxy boast a 4-3-2 record since Seattle entered MLS in 2009. This year, LA continued their good form in the Emerald City by demolishing Seattle 3-0 on July 26 thanks to first-half goals from Gyasi Zardes, Landon Donovan and Stefan Ishizaki.
A Galaxy win will be required again on Saturday as anything else will see Seattle take lift first-ever Supporters' Shield and clinch home-field advantage throughout the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs.
And according to LA midfielder Baggio Husidic, that suits them just fine.
"You can't go into Seattle and hold back and expect to tie, it doesn't really work like that there. The best way to go there is to go after them and to try and win the game, and it's a good mentality to have; nothing to lose so I think it will be a lot of fun to play out there," said Husidic. "I think that going into this type of environment, it pumps you up. You want to quiet their crowd and just go after them.
"We showed that last time we played Seattle, we were absolutely dominant against them and I think we are all feeling confident that we can do that again."
That gung-ho mentality may seem risky but according to head coach Bruce Arena, the droves of screaming Sounders fans bring out the best in his team.
"We don't mind playing in big games and big games test your team," Arena said. "It's a game that we look forward to playing in."
Amid all of the joyous moments that LA has enjoyed on the carpet at CenturyLink Field- whether it was Edson Buddle's stunning strike in 2010 or hoisting the Western Conference championship trophy in 2012- one game above all the rest lives above all others in infamy for Sounders fans.
On May 8, 2010, the Galaxy shellacked the Sounders 4-0 in front of 36,273 fans. From the opening whistle, the Galaxy controlled the tempo as Jovan Kirovski put Seattle ahead after 22 minutes. In the second half, the dam truly broke as the Galaxy notched three goals in quick succession to give Seattle their worst loss at home in club history.
A day later Seattle ownership offered season ticket holders a one-game credit toward their 2011 season-ticket packages in what has been dubbed by supporters on both sides as "the refund game".
The loss still stands as Seattle's largest margin of defeat at home and was a major topic of conversation throughout the season according to former Seattle left back James Riley.
"I remember that it was refunded and we actually didn't play that badly," Riley said glibly. "It was interesting going through that... [That refund situation] would take any team aback, but I think that it eventually brought the team together."
Kirovski and the rest of the Galaxy learned about the Sounders' front office decision while at Sea-Tac International Airport the next morning and were quick to admit that the gesture gave them fuel for future trips to the Pacific Northwest.
"It felt great the next day when the owners gave the fans - who were great and singing all game - their money back," said Kirovski. "We were sitting at the airport getting ready to return to Los Angeles when we found out, it was fantastic. I know that the team is confident of picking up yet another win this weekend."
As for Saturday, Galaxy striker Robbie Keane who is LA's all-time goal scoring leader against Seattle with five goals in all MLS competitions, says that the Galaxy will be playing with a clear head
"The lads can do it, there's no question about that. There's just a feeling around [this] place, a relaxed feeling. I think we're good when we need to win games, I think we're better," he said. "I think it's better for us for the game. We play better when we're relaxed going into a game."
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