The Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders have never met under these circumstances.
When the teams play Sunday night, Sigi Schmid will be coaching from in front of the visitors’ bench at CenturyLink Field for the first time.
Schmid, who guided the Sounders for their first seven-plus years in Major League Soccer before being fired midway through last season, returns to Seattle for the first time as the Galaxy coach.
“As long as I don’t walk into the wrong locker room, I’ll be OK,” Schmid joked after practice the other day. “I was gonna walk into that locker room as a joke, but I don’t know if that will go over.”
Schmid and the Galaxy (7-14-5) snapped a 10-match winless streak (0-9-1) with a 3-0 victory Sept. 2 against Colorado. Los Angeles is in ninth place in the Western Conference and entered the weekend 11 points out of a playoff spot.
The Sounders (11-7-9), meanwhile, are unbeaten in a franchise-record 11 consecutive matches (6-0-5) and first in the West entering weekend play.
But the Sounders cautioned about reading too much into the records.
“The Galaxy are the Galaxy,” Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso told reporters in preparation for the match. “Every time we play them, it doesn’t matter if they’re first, second or last in the table, they’re going to come here to play good soccer. They have a good team and good players. We have to prepare for battle Sunday night. … Everybody is prepared to keep rolling.”
The teams played to a scoreless tie in their last meeting, July 29 in Los Angeles, which was the return of Schmid as the Galaxy coach. He also coached in Los Angeles from 1999-2004, leading the Galaxy to the MLS Cup title in 2002.
The Sounders are coming off consecutive 1-1 ties against rivals Vancouver and Portland before the FIFA international break.
“If you get on top of the Galaxy, I think they might have a difficult time coming back,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who took over for Schmid last season and led Seattle to its first MLS Cup title. “But if you let them hang around, just like we let Vancouver hang around and Portland hang around, then we’ll make it tough on ourselves.
“It’s a big game for a lot of reasons. It’s always one to mark on the calendar.”