A little closer to whole and coming off a promising victory, the Seattle Sounders look to sustain their momentum Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Much was made of the fact the Sounders (3-1-2) would have midfielders Joao Paulo and Nicolas Lodeiro together in the starting XI for the first time this season. Paulo plays behind Lodeiro in Brian Schmetzer's 4-2-3-1 set-up, and while there were no moments of magic between the pair, it did give Lodeiro the freedom to roam forward.
The Uruguay international did record his 50th regular-season assist, setting up the first of Rau Ruidiaz's two goals as Seattle recorded a 3-0 victory over Cascadia rival Portland on Sunday night. Ruidiaz, who completed his brace on 83 minutes, then set up Kelvin Leerdam's marker two minutes later.
"We would admit that we haven't been playing the best football in the past few months," said keeper Stefan Frei, who made a pivotal save in the 75th minute to preserve a 1-0 lead, to the Seattle Times. "We were sputtering a little bit. You're always looking for something to kick start it and why not here in your archrival's home?"
Ruidiaz, who shares the team lead with Jordan Morris with four goals in all competitions, was named MLS Player of the Week for his efforts.
It is uncertain if center back Xavier Arreaga will miss a second consecutive match due to an injury suffered in the run-up to the Portland match. Shane O'Neill proved an effective partner with Gomez Andrade, who was returning from a four-game absence because of a hamstring injury.
Los Angeles (1-3-2) is also seeking back-to-back wins following a surprising 3-0 romp at Los Angeles FC on Saturday in the second edition of "El Trafico" this year. Julian Araujo set up goals by Ethan Zubak and Sebastian Lletget on either side of halftime for the Galaxy, who avenged a 6-2 defeat to LAFC during group play in the MLS Is Back tournament.
"Whether it was LAFC or another team, we knew we had to get our first win of the year," Lletget told the Orange County Register. "Of course, it's a Classico and you want to beat your rival, but we wanted to get a win ... I think this is our first time shutting them out and that's a testament to our effort.
"We knocked them off their high horse and hopefully, we shut them up a little bit."
Zubak, who notched his first MLS goal with a header on Araujo's cross following a short corner, is expected to retain his status in the first XI as marquee offseason signing Chicharito Hernandez remains sidelined with a calf injury suffered while in Florida.
Cristian Pavon recorded secondary assists on both goals, and the Argentine midfielder has factored on six of the Galaxy's seven goals through the first six matches with three goals and three assists.
The Sounders claimed four points in last year's two meetings, recording a wild 4-3 victory in the most recent matchup. Cristian Roldan completed his brace on 89 minutes for the match-winner as Ruidiaz scored one goal and set up one by Jordan Morris.