Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy will begin their star-studded Western Conference final series on Sunday at the StubHub Center.
It will be a meeting of the two best regular season teams in MLS this season as Seattle and Los Angeles saw their race for the Supporters' Shield come down to the wire.
The two sides were tied atop the overall MLS table heading into the final two matches of the season, which ironically enough saw Seattle and L.A. face one another in a home-and-home series.
They played to a 2-2 draw at the StubHub Center on Oct. 19 to leave L.A. with a must-win situation on the road on Oct. 25, but the Sounders answered the call with two late goals at CenturyLink Field to collect a 2-0 victory.
It was the second trophy of the season for the Sounders, who also claimed the U.S. Open Cup earlier in the year. According to majority owner Joe Roth, improved chemistry has been one of the strongest contributing factors to Seattle's success thus far in the campaign.
"I'd seen what had happened inside the locker room " dissension between some of the guys," Roth told MLSsoccer.com regarding last season's Sounders squad. "I just didn't want it to happen again. ... Right now I feel like we've got a team that will go out there and run through the wall. That wasn't the case last season."
Seattle has a chance at a remarkable treble this season, but first the club must get by a Galaxy side that brings a 20-game unbeaten run at the StubHub Center into the Western Conference championship.
Los Angeles is 16-1-4 and riding a 20-game unbeaten streak on home soil this season, a run that includes two "road" victories over Chivas USA and a CONCACAF Champions League triumph over Club Tijuana.
The Galaxy proved how devastating their home advantage is in their last outing when, after a scoreless draw in the opening leg of their Western Conference semifinal tie at Real Salt Lake, they ran out to a 5-0 demolition of the Claret and Cobalt.
"I think our field is big, and we're used to playing on this field," Landon Donovan told MLSsoccer.com. "We have a team that likes to spread out and play the game in a sort of attractive manner - we like to pass the ball and create chances that way - so I think that's to our advantage.
"And you have to understand that this is every team's biggest game of the year. So when you factor that into the equation, that you always get their absolute best, it makes (our record at StubHub) even more impressive."
Sunday could also mark Donovan's last-ever home match. The legendary American is set to retire at season's end, meaning that the Galaxy would need to advance beyond the Sounders in order to reach MLS Cup and guarantee another home game for the talisman.
Donovan, though, is simply focused on getting past Seattle.
"We're confident that we know how to play in these series," Donovan said. "After the first Salt Lake game, we felt great about it and, even though it was sort of an ugly 0-0 game, we felt great about the position we were in, and we know how to play at home. It's going to be reversed this time, playing Seattle home first, but we like the way we play here, we think we have an opportunity to win and score goals here, and that's going to be the objective.
"... The goal is going to be, clearly, to win and ideally win by a few goals, not allow goals, and those are the three objectives. For us, it's going to change the mentality a little bit, but we know, no matter what happens in the first game, we can win anywhere in the league. And we've proved (in a 3-0 road victory over the Sounders on July 28) in Seattle: We can go there and win if we need to."