Seattle, WA – Seattle Sounders FC has been left with a mountain to climb.
On the back of winning its first-ever Major League Soccer playoff series, Seattle was thumped by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 3-0 loss at The Home Depot Center last weekend.
The Sounders will return home to CenturyLink Field on Sunday, attempting to overturn a three-goal deficit against the reigning MLS Cup champions.
What makes the second leg so complicated for Seattle is the size of the deficit. The Sounders undoubtedly have to throw numbers forward in order to make up the aggregate difference, but doing so will play right into the Galaxy's strong counterattack.
"When you look at their team, they kind of shape their team around the counterattack," Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said during a Thursday conference call with reporters. "When they win the ball, Sean Franklin pushes forward as fast as he can, [Christian] Wilhelmsson tucks in a little bit and [David] Beckham gets the ball almost in a right back position right behind the halfway line.
"You have to pick your poison there. Do you stay with the runner that had two assists or stay with the man who started the whole play and can pretty much pick out any player he wants on the field."
It certainly puts Sigi Schmid's men in a tough position.
The Sounders may have been able to hang their hats on one of the most fearful home field advantages in the league, but the Galaxy's stable of veteran talent should be able to overcome the fierce CenturyLink crowd.
Robbie Keane, who is tied with the Houston Dynamo's Will Bruin for the MLS postseason scoring lead with four goals, has seen it all during his time in Europe. The well-traveled Irish striker was adamant that the Sounders faithful will not faze him.
"The crowd goes away when the whistles blows," he said in a conference call with media on Thursday. "I have played in stadiums of 100,000 and 80,000 people and it goes away. You can switch it off."
Keane even alluded that Seattle's sea of green could have the adverse effect on him, spurring him on when the crowd feels as though their getting inside the opposition's head.
"For me personally, I like playing in stadiums that have a great atmosphere, and everyone wants to be involved in games like," Keane continued. "It gets no bigger than this. It should be something we should be looking forward to even though we are the away team."
Los Angeles boasts a squad ripe with experience. Not only do the likes of Keane, David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle have experience playing in Europe, but they also were involved the club's championship run one year ago.
The Galaxy hosted MLS Cup last season, and they will again this term if the Dynamo make it past D.C. United in the Eastern Conference finals.
That is, if the Galaxy manage to escape CenturyLink Field with their aggregate lead in tact.