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By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- The Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders battled for the Supporters' Shield in 2011 before the Galaxy eventually emerged with the league's best record. This year's race figures to be equally close.
With both teams aiming to make a statement, the Sounders look to extend the best start in franchise history Wednesday night when they host the Galaxy, who are unbeaten in six straight in this series.
Los Angeles finished four points ahead of Seattle for the best record in the league in 2011 en route to capturing the MLS Cup. This year, the Galaxy are behind the Sounders in the standings.
"We want to measure ourselves against Los Angeles - they are the defending MLS Cup champions," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid told the league's official website. "They've got a good team and they've got quality. But our team has quality as well. It's going to be a great match."
Schmid's club, though, has had little success against Los Angeles in the last two seasons. The Galaxy have gone 5-0-1 in the last six meetings, holding the Sounders to two goals in that span and shutting them out four times - twice in 2011.
Behind outstanding play by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, the Sounders (4-1-1) have won their last two, most recently defeating Chicago 2-1 on Saturday.
David Estrada and Eddie Johnson scored and Gspurning's shutout streak reached 337 minutes before he allowed a late score.
Estrada's goal was his team-leading fourth of the season while Johnson recorded his first. After scoring 15 goals for Kansas City in 2007, Johnson left MLS to play in Europe before returning to the United States for this year.
Seattle hopes Johnson can duplicate that production, and it's also counting on offense from Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales, both of whom have been slowed by injuries.
Rosales missed four straight games with an injured knee and had to come out five minutes into the second half against the Fire with a different injury. Fernandez has missed the last two matches with a right quadriceps problem, but both hope to play Wednesday.
The three goals Seattle has allowed are tied for fewest in the league, but Gspurning and Sounders may face a tough challenge from the Galaxy (3-3-1), who are 2-0-1 in their last three.
Los Angeles, though, needed reserve Pat Noonan's goal in stoppage time to earn a 1-all draw with FC Dallas on Saturday.
"It's always nice to contribute," the former Seattle forward said. "If we could have won the game, that would have been nicer."
The Galaxy allowed seven goals in the first three games, but have given up only four since and received an excellent effort from their backup goalkeeper Saturday.
Bill Gaudette made four saves in his first MLS appearance since Sept. 30, 2006 with Columbus. Josh Saunders was out due to personal matters.
"It was seamless," Landon Donovan said of Gaudette's performance. "For coming in on short notice, I thought he was great."
The Galaxy have not said whether Saunders will be back Wednesday. He recorded one of the team's two clean sheets against the Sounders last season.
Updated May 1, 2012