Goalkeeper Kasey Keller leads the Sounders into Home Depot Center Monday in a 7:30 p.m. Independence Day game against the Galaxy (Photo by Getty Images).
One of the last chances for Southern California soccer fans to pay tribute to long-time national team mainstay Kasey Keller, who will retire from MLS at season’s end, comes Monday when the Sounders face the Galaxy in Carson. Here’s a preview of the game, which usually sells out and will feature one of the largest fireworks display in the area afterwards:
TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — Through two decades of world-class goalkeeping, Kasey Keller has put up some world-class statistics. But through two-plus seasons in Major League Soccer, the stats for Keller and the Seattle Sounders when facing the Galaxy haven’t been nearly as good.
In fact, Seattle is just 1-5-1 — regular season and playoffs — against the Galaxy in their
three seasons in existence. Seattle has dropped five straight heading into a July 4 showdown in Carson.
Small wonder that Keller and the rest of the Sounders figure they’ll have plenty of added
incentive in the nationally televised game between two of the top three teams in MLS. Los
Angeles is 9-2-8 for a league-leading 35 points; Seattle is 8-4-7 with 31 points, tied with
Dallas for the second-best total.
“There should be a little bit (of extra motivation) there. They’ve had our number the last few years,” Keller said. “They’re a good team, lots of experience, and we’re going to have our work cut out for us. Hopefully, we’re in good form, and we’re very confident going down there.
“And like I said, we owe them one.”
Seattle has been among the leading teams in MLS since joining in 2009. It has qualified for the playoffs both years, and has won back-to-back U.S. Open Cups.
But after taking four of a possible six points in ’09 — a 1-1 tie in Seattle, and a 2-0 win in
Carson — the Sounders have gone 0-5-0 against the Galaxy, and have been outscored by their Southern California rivals 11-2. That includes a 3-1 rout last July 4 in Carson, two losses in last year’s first round of the playoffs and a 1-0 defeat at Seattle in this year’s season-opener.
“I think the guys know what the results have been against L.A., and that we haven’t had good results lately,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s another proving ground for us. They’re a team that plays with a little bit of a swagger and has some confidence. I think we’re starting to get some of that. We just have to go down there and play well.”
Added defender James Riley, “For us, we have to take chances when we get them. We always create chances against them. We’ve just been unfortunate not to stick ’em in.”
Many around MLS might fully have expected the Galaxy to bring the league’s top record into the game. Very few would have expected the Sounders to bring the second-best mark.
Even fewer would have expected it after both of the Sounders’ early-season scoring leaders were lost to injury. Midfielder Steve Zakuani had two goals and two assists before suffering a broken leg on April 22 at Colorado. Forward O’Brian White also had two goals and two assists before he was lost just five days later to surgery for a blood clot in his leg.
In their absence, the Sounders have become a team by committee: 24 players have seen action, 21 have started, and 13 have scored goals.
“Like we’ve always said, it says Sounders on all of our uniforms, and that means guys have to be capable of playing, and that’s why they’re here,” Schmid said. “Different guys have stepped up.”
Keller is counting on more of the same come Monday, in part because of the 1 vs. 2 factor, but in larger part because of who is on the other side of the field.
“At this point of the season, it’s not necessarily the end-all, be-all,” Keller said. “(But)
we’d love to go down there and close that gap against them. We need to go down there and show the same kind of heart and determination that we’ve shown the last several weeks. And if we do that, we give ourselves a great chance.”