The stars will be out tonight. Call it the Constellation Cup.
The Seattle Sounders’ game against the Los Angeles Galaxy will feature two talent-laden teams with nearly $19 million in payroll combined. Each boasts a full allotment of three designated players, and not in a long time – maybe ever – has so much individual talent been on display in an MLS game.
Clint Dempsey. Landon Donovan. Obafemi Martins. Robbie Keane. Eddie Johnson. Omar Gonzalez.
That group includes MLS Cups, World Cup appearances and dozens of international goals, and it doesn’t even include another DP in Mauro Rosales or Best XI honoree Osvaldo Alonso.
“I think when both teams are 100 percent healthy and everybody is out there on the field, arguably you could say from an MLS standpoint that’s about as much firepower as two teams on the field (could) have,” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid.
“But at the end of the day, teams win championships, not individuals. Individuals are part of a team, and I think within that, (the Galaxy is) up on us a little bit. We still have to do that part of it. So once we’ve done that part of it, we can compare ourselves.”
The Sounders, strengthened by a five-game winning streak, sit atop the MLS standings, but Los Angeles still holds the best bragging rights with back-to-back MLS Cups.
Both have made the playoffs the past four seasons – Real Salt Lake is the only other team to do so – with the Galaxy beating Seattle in the conference finals last year and the conference semifinals in 2010.
Amid the glut of standout individuals, L.A. coach Bruce Arena also preferred to focus on the collective.
“Neither of these teams has accomplished anything yet this year, so I’m not ready to put either one of us on a pedestal right now,” Arena said Thursday on a conference call. “We have to play this game, play out the season, see how our respective teams do, but both teams certainly have good talent and are obviously teams that have the chance to be pretty good later on.”
There are several subplots to the game, including Dempsey’s introduction to the power-packed West Coast rivalry. Since his return to MLS, this is his first game against fellow U.S. Soccer star Donovan and his first against Arena, who brought Dempsey onto the national team in 2004.
An interesting note for some, but Dempsey expressed no added significance this week.
“It doesn’t matter who you are,” said the forward, still seeking his first goal or assist. “If it was my brother, if it was my mom, it’d be the same – I’d want to win.”
MLS hopes this is the type of star-heavy matchup that can attract viewers in what Arena called “a very exciting time” for the league. NBC Sports Network will carry the national broadcast, adding even more significance.
“Hopefully, it’s a good showcase,” said midfielder Brad Evans, another U.S. international. “Most of all, it’s just got to be a good game, (otherwise) it doesn’t matter if you have all that experience.”
Evans was a full participant in practice Thursday, a first since he suffered a calf injury Aug. 31 at Columbus. … Midfielder Adam Moffat, acquired last week before the roster freeze, could make his debut for the Sounders.