Saturday, May 8, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: L.A. v. Seattle, by the numbers

Welcome to a new fixture in your NSS Sounders FC coverage, our weekly “by the numbers” preview of Seattle’s upcoming opponent. This week, we feature a statistical breakdown of the Western Conference leading L.A. Galaxy.

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Last week the Sounders faced a Columbus team who had appeared in only three matches to Seattle’s six. Both teams in this Saturday’s matchup at Qwest Field have played seven games this season, but the Galaxy will be playing their third game in eight days. The fatigue will be a factor and it would not be surprising if L.A. coach Bruce Arenas uses all three of his available substitutes. The Sounders however will be relaxed and rested, playing their regular one game per week schedule until they face Boca Juniors on May 26.

If three subs are necessary, L.A. has more options. Only four players are listed as questionable for the match; DF Sean Franklin (L ankle sprain); MF Dema Kovalenko (R hamstring strain); DF Leonardo (R quad strain); MF Eddie Lewis (L foot contusion). Seattle, with the directness and efficiency of a German engineer, provided this breakdown of their injured players:

“OUT: FW Nate Jaqua (lower abdominal fascial tear); MF Michael Fucito (R knee contusion); DOUBTFUL: FW Pat Noonan (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Brad Evans (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Taylor Graham (L calf strain); DF Tyrone Marshall (L hamstring strain)”

So, in the deliberately vague lingo of professional sports, expect Tyrone Marshall to suit up but do not expect to see Jaqua or Fucito scoring any last minute goals. Neither team has any players on international duty, but Blasie Kufo, the recently signed Swiss striker will not be reporting to Qwest until after the World Cup in June.

Navigating the stats section of the MLS website (each of the key stats gets a portrait of the current leading player) is plastered with so many images of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, it’s reminiscent of the inside of a 14-year-old girl’s locker. Buddle leads in Goals, Shots, Shots on Goal, and Game Winning Goals. Donovan leads the league in Assists and Game Winning Assists. The website does not have pictures for defensive stats, but it would be stuffed with images of Donovan Ricketts and his defense.

If only the MLS posted pictures for the more devious statistical categories. L.A. has committed more fouls than any other team, 95, more than 10 more than the rest of the league; in fact, Edson Buddle is one yellow card away from a suspension having been booked 15 times for rough play.

In a strange turn of fate, the Sounders lead in at least one statistical category, they currently have suffered more fouls than any other team in the league. Seattle, 96 Fouls Suffered, has been fouled 49 times more than the least fouled team, Toronto, 47 FS. Of those 96 fouls, 31 were against the two most fouled players in the MLS, drum roll please, Freddie Ljungberg (15) and Fredy Montero (16). Galaxy players were fouled only 66 times so far this season while the Sounders have committed 82 fouls, 16 coming from the Freddies (eight each, Leo Gonzalez leads the team with nine fouls).

The match looks like it will be physical, tactical affair. Sigi and the Sounders look for the win that will catapult them into relevance while also hoping they have concocted a strategy that will stifle the L.A.’s sharpshooter Buddle.

Reach Galen Helmgren at