American soccer's two most recognizable faces could be on the same MLS field for the first time in over seven years when Clint Dempsey and the visiting Seattle Sounders go for a franchise-record sixth straight win Saturday night against Landon Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
It's an unlikely storyline, given the season started with Donovan taking time away from the sport, Dempsey across the Atlantic playing for Tottenham, and the two hadn't been on MLS rosters at the same time since 2006.
The star power is a nice little teaser, but these teams aren't just hoping to sell jerseys. Since June 23, Western Conference-leading Seattle (15-8-4) has a league-best nine wins and 28 points while Los Angeles' 23 points in that span are third behind Colorado.
"We've kept climbing, kept climbing and now we're in first place," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said after last Saturday's 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. "Now we've got to make sure we stay there and enjoy the view a little bit."
Donovan suffered a right ankle sprain in last weekend's 2-all draw at D.C., but coach Bruce Arena said Thursday on the Galaxy's official website they are planning on him playing.
While Donovan has had plenty of time to settle in since returning from his time away with eight goals and eight assists in 17 starts, Dempsey is still looking for his first MLS goal since his return last month.
"We're more focused on us and doing well with this team and continuing the run we're on," Dempsey told the Sounders' official website. "The team's been doing really well and I just want to play a part in that and help this run continue."
The Sounders have allowed one goal during their five-match win streak, but they'll have to contend with Galaxy forward Robbie Keane on Saturday. Keane has six goals in his last four league matches, including an Aug. 17 hat trick against Real Salt Lake.
He also had a first-half hat trick in a 4-0 home win over Seattle on May 26.
"A performance like that, to get that score, it would be great if it did happen," Keane said. "But they don't come around very often. We play half as well as we did against them, we've got every chance to win the game."
The 4-0 embarrassment wasn't exactly an anomaly for Seattle on its trips to Los Angeles. Since entering the league, the Sounders are 1-5-1 as the Galaxy's guests with their only win coming on their first try in August 2009. They've been shut out in their last four visits, including a 3-0 first-leg loss in last year's Western Conference finals.
"They've had our number," Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said. "They're a good team. They know how to play on that field. It's a big pitch, plays bigger than it actually is just because of the way the stadium is set up. They tend to use that to their advantage."
Along with Dempsey, the Sounders will look to fellow national teamer Eddie Johnson to do something about the attacking issues in Los Angeles.
The resurgent forward has three goals in his last four starts, though he has never scored and has lost each of the nine career matches he's played while visiting the Galaxy.
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