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Sounders-Galaxy Preview

Jul 3, 2010 - 5:21 PM By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Seattle (4-7-3) at Los Angeles (10-1-3), 10:30 p.m. EDT

Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle highlight a group of players expected to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night.

Given the result in this season's previous matchup, the Seattle Sounders are probably not too thrilled - especially with Donovan's potential return.

With their two stars expected to contribute for the first time in six games, the league-best Galaxy will try to end its winless slide at two as they welcome Seattle, losers in four of five in MLS play.

Even before losing Donovan and Buddle to the U.S. World Cup team, Los Angeles (10-1-3) struggled to field a healthy roster but the league's two-week hiatus gave the team time to heal.

Despite those injury issues, the Galaxy continued their impressive start by winning their first three games without Donovan and Buddle, the MLS leaders in nine assists and nine goals, respectively. That run ended with a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on June 9, and Los Angeles played to a scoreless draw with Toronto FC in its return from the break June 26.

That same day, Donovan and Buddle were wrapping up their run in South Africa with a 2-1 overtime loss to Ghana. A whirlwind few days followed for Donovan as he appeared on various television shows and attempted to mend a strained hamstring that bothered him during the final two World Cup matches.

"The easy way out would be to say, 'I'm tired. I'm drained. I'm not ready. I'm worn out,'" Donovan told the team's website. "I'm going to use this as an opportunity to perform really well on Sunday."

In addition to Donovan's return, the Galaxy could have Eddie Lewis, Dema Kovalenko and Leonardo back from injuries, which might be unsettling to the Sounders (4-7-3).

With Donovan and Buddle in the lineup, Los Angeles routed Seattle 4-0 on May 8, a loss that led Sounders management to offer season-ticket holders a credit to use toward 2011 season tickets.

Donovan had a hand in all four goals, assisting on the first three and scoring on a feed from Buddle.

That loss is part of a current 2-6-2 stretch for Seattle following a 2-1-1 start. In the past two league games, the Sounders have fallen to the two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference - D.C. United and Philadelphia - and helped the expansion Union christen their new stadium with a 3-1 defeat last Sunday.

The Sounders, however, beat the Portland Timbers on penalty kicks during U.S. Open Cup play Wednesday and Nate Jaqua played 62 minutes as part of his comeback from a lower abdominal surgery. The forward had a career-high nine goals and seven assists in 2009.

"I'm still getting my fitness back," Jaqua told the team's website. "I need to keep working to get where I want to get. I'm not quite there yet."

The Galaxy and Sounders will play again Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match in Tukwila, Wash.