One of the biggest rivalries in MLS is charting towards a new chapter.
This Wednesday night, both the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy take a decisive edge into their quarter-final second leg Champions League matches.
Due to aggregate scoring from a home and home series, the Sounders come into their game against the Mexican team, Santos Laguna, to be played in the city of Torreon of the state Coahuila, leading 2-1 after winning last week in Seattle.
In front of more than 47,000 fans, the Galaxy capitalized on an 88th minute corner kick from David Beckham and goal by Landon Donovan in Toronto last week to get the tie, 2-2, and come home to face Toronto FC for the deciding match.
One of these teams has a chance for U.S. pro Soccer history.
If they play each other in the semis, then one team makes the CONCACAF Champions League Final and with a win gets the ultimate opportunity to play in FIFA’s Club World Cup later in the year in Japan.
This is significant for many reasons beyond any singular U.S. team’s accomplishments. Playing in the FIFA Club World Cup means an opportunity to play against the world’s elite teams from Europe and South America.
In the recent past, Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan have won this prestigious Cup.
If the Galaxy or Sounders can play one of these heavyweights in the Club World Cup Final and play well, than it could be a new measuring stick for U.S. Pro Soccer. The match would garner headlines around the world and bring lots of new sports media attention to MLS.
Wednesday night’s match and the following semis and finals of CONCACAF’s Champions League seem to be part of the attraction for why Beckham and Donovan are sticking around with the Galaxy.
Neither the Galaxy or Sounders are expected to draw maximum crowds for these quarterfinal matches. Seattle attracted 23,000 for their match, almost 10,000 under their average and LA is not expecting a sellout against Toronto, but if they play each other in the semis, it will be a different story.
These teams have passionate fan bases who do not like each other. In their recent past meetings, the on-field tactics have been physical and LA has been the dominant team.
This would be a semi-final that each team will treat like a final and pride will take center stage. But first, they must take care of their quarter-final home and home.
Get the popcorn ready for Wednesday. Seattle plays at 8pm Eastern and LA plays at 10pm Eastern time. Check local listings and sports bars in the area.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com