Galaxy overwhelm Sounders in 3-0 West finals romp

BY KAYLA KNAPP

CARSON, CALIF.—Robbie Keane just cannot stop scoring.

The LA Galaxy striker picked up another brace in their 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. The victory gave the defending MLS Cup champions a bit of breathing room ahead of the second leg of the Western Conference finals in Seattle on Nov 18th.

“We played very well tonight against an excellent team,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We’re not foolish enough to believe that this thing is over. The game in Seattle on Sunday is going to be a real difficult game. We have to have our team ready to play.”

The red-hot Galaxy goal scorer was thrilled with the result, but cautious looking ahead to the second leg of the series.

“It’s important that we got good win tonight, but the job is only half done,” Keane said. “If the lads think for one second that this is over, they may think again because as we know in football, it’s a funny ol’ game and anything can happen.”

While the Sounders held strong in the first half, the Galaxy were able to run rampant on a tired and beaten up squad for most of the second half. Even the late-game addition of striker Eddie Johnson wasn’t able to get the visitors on the scoreboard. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was clearly disappointed with the result, especially a loss by such a large deficit.

“We had the ability to keep it at 1-0, and we should’ve kept it at 1-0 and played with a better mentality at that stage,” Schmid said after the loss. “We possibly pushed a little bit when we shouldn’t have pushed to try and get the goal back, because getting the goal back wasn’t important. 1-0 was fine.”

The opening goal came in the 45th minute, when Galaxy captain Landon Donovan easily ditched his defender Jeff Parke, and chipped the ball across the goalmouth as he fell backwards. The cross found Robbie Keane on the opposite post, who headed it powerfully past Michael Gspurning.

After the final whistle, both teams considered the goal right before halftime the game-changing moment of match.

“What we wanted to do was congest midfield a little bit and make it a little more difficult to possess the ball more,” Schmid said of his game plan in the first half. “When you look at the stats, and you look at our possession and you look at even the first half, I thought we did a good job. It went exactly like I wanted it to – we were one minute away from having it go the way we wanted it to go.”

“That was huge,” Donovan said of the opening goal. “We didn’t play all too well in the first half. We created a couple of chances, but we weren’t all that dangerous. To break through right before, I think broke their back a little bit, and then our second half was terrific.”

After the halftime break, the Galaxy came out with giant boost from Keane’s goal. In the 64th minute, Sean Franklin made a great run forward – something he had been doing all game – and found a wide-open Mike Magee in the Seattle box. The playoffs clutch-man came through again, finishing Franklin’s cross past Gspurning to give the Galaxy a 2-0 lead.

Then just three minutes later, the Galaxy offense would strike again. Donovan took a shot from the top of the box that deflected off the Seattle defense. Christian Wilhelmsson collected the ball, and pushed it past Gspurning. Keane made sure the weak shot crossed the line, giving the home side a 3-0 lead in the 67th minute.

It felt like a rout was on as the Galaxy pressed for more, but Seattle keeper Gspurning did a stellar job keeping them off the board for the final 20 minutes of the match. But the three-goal deficit could haunt Seattle going into the second leg.

“We talked at halftime, and we said 1-0 is OK, we walk away 1-0 we’re alright. I really tried to emphasize that at halftime, but then at the end of the day we didn’t,” Schmid said. “So now we have to come back and we’ve got to play with the same attitude, the same conviction that we played with last year in the game two, but we’ve got to score more goals.”

Heading back home after a 3-0 loss, the Sounders have a steep hill to climb to move on to MLS Cup – but don’t count this team out. There are still 90 minutes (maybe more) of soccer to be played.

“Seattle’s always been a tough place to go and win games and play at, their fans will be right behind them,” David Beckham said after the match. “But we have obviously put ourselves in good position, but we know that it’s far from over.”

The second leg of the Western Conference finals will be played at Centurylink Field on November 18th, giving both sides a week to rest before they clash again. The week off is a relief for all teams still involved in the playoffs.

“This is a difficult schedule for all the teams,” Arena said. “Obviously I think it was challenging for DC United today going into Houston. I think Seattle would say the same. We had the play-in game. So it’s been a lot of games in a short period of time, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to survive to this point.”

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49 Responses to Galaxy overwhelm Sounders in 3-0 West finals romp

  1. MemRook says:

    Galaxy looked great tonight (with some Sounders help, especially due to Schmid’s tactics) but LA still had work to do and looked great doing it.

    Woot.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      Yeah, that was odd to say the least from Sigi. Seattle had very little in the attack. Then LA scores and instead of keeping their deeper defensive shape, hoping to steal a goal on a counter or dead ball, they push higher with that anemic attack only to get gutted on the counter. I thought he would have really focused on keeping the deficit manageable, especially away with the home game to follow…weird

  2. AzTeXan says:

    Poor Seattle. There’s always next year.

  3. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    I wish most MLS teams would copy or at least follow the Galaxy model bcus every team can do it with the ‘”parity” in the MLS. Its a new era where small teams with small thinking won’t win MLS CUP. Therefore red bull and galaxy will dominate the following years and teams like sounders, toronto, chicago have to follow the red bull and galaxy plan no matter what. Small market teams is bull crap bcus all they gotta do is spend money in order to fight agaisnt the big team market teams. If every team, can get a donovan-beckham- keane trio bcus the parity rules can make it happen, then do it. This world has millions of soccer players who would love to play in the US but if you think small, you will win nothing. The magic number is 4 dps but teams like Rsl and rapids, kiill the mls by not spending for their fans. In another hand, sounders need a trio like galaxy and the scary thing red bulls might be and should be better next year with just a new coach.

    • Travis says:

      other teams in MLS cant follow galaxy model cause MLS wont change the DP rule at whim for others…

      • el paso tx wants NASL says:

        Well it never hurts to try- but in reality I don’t think sigi is a super coach just good enough for mls but he really sucks. All this new blood of young coaches make sigi look like crap. Poor seattle fans, but if they have the money then just get 3 super dps like red bull and galaxy. I’m not hating talking but montero is a barbie who would be bench or let go bcus after his first season, he has done nothing. seattle does not have a leader and u can tell their coach has lost the team.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Why does this guy bother? No one can understand a word he says.

        • Lee Desta says:

          Sounders has a leader in mauro Rosales and a great one. Brad Evans leads with instructions and directions and this year he is playing his best. LAG game yesterday was poorly played on so many levels. I hope we play as we did at RSL when Scott got the red card and again in second level again against RSL (a terrific team itself) In both cases we played AS A TEAM. Not depending on a guy or another guy. Generously thoughtfully carefully and without mental let downs.

      • solles says:

        No matter how much conspiracy theory spin you lay out, the Gals still play by the same rules as everyone else.

      • chris_thebassplayer says:

        So true

    • Bobb says:

      I have read more coherent and well reasoned third grade book reports.

    • Rowsdower says:

      The Dynamo have the lowest payroll in the MLS. Please correct if I am wrong. I wouldn’t use the red bulls as a positive example, Look at their trophy case.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      It’s a mix of factors. LA will likely be meeting Houston in the final. They represent the new model versus an older version of the model. That LA under Arena has done so well suggests the new model can in fact dominate. However, that Gullit couldn’t muster a decent team, and that NYRB continues to flop, suggests the new model is more advantage than guarantee. It takes an Arena to make it truly hum. Also, that Houston remains competitive undercuts the argument that small markets can’t compete at all. However, in a relative sense, LA keeps knocking us out of the playoffs every year and I’d argue it’s because we’re playing with an offense formulated to meet the cap (with just one player nominally a DP and only for a transfer fee) and they have 3 DPs plus winner’s allocations.

      Personally, I prefer a level playing field, and I think the DP rule is like how French law bans everyone from sleeping under bridges, including rich people. Everyone is entitled to a DP, if they can afford it, which they all can’t. In which case you can argue it’s a cynically “universal” rule which licenses a limited amount of teams to be more “spendy” than others.

      • Dimidri says:

        Well except they can, numerous smaller (I wouldn’t call Houston a small market) have multiple DP’s.

        You are right of course, LA’s are more expensive, but overwhelmingly the only super expensive players who come to MLS are older, which inherently disadvantages the teams they play for and acts as a built-in equalizer (e.g. Beckham may be great but also wants to go back to Milan, Marquez has attitude issues, they get injured more, etc.).

        Smaller teams can succeed equally well with less expensive DP’s, it’s just not as much of a sure thing, the more expensive DP’s help out at the margins for things like marketing.

        You are right that it does undercut parity to some degree, but MLS has to find a middle ground between maximizing its potential talent as a league and allowing for a system where teams can truly rise and fall and no market is cast aside as ‘destined to fail’ based on its payroll. I think the current system succeeds in both those goals.

        To not have the DP system would preclude the league from having players like Henry, Beckham, etc. from playing. To do just about anything more than the status quo though, to increase the quality of the league would hurt a tenuous equilibrium that exists now.

    • jay says:

      i couldn’t agree with my friend from El Paso TX even though i live in Seattle (i root for Galaxy first, Sounders second). problem with Seattle, we are trying to do it on the cheap. Galaxy has a natural grass stadium (seattle plays on plastic turf), Galaxy has Donovan, Beckham, Keane (seattle has Montero, Rosales, EJ). payroll alone, LA spends 3x Seattle. the quality shows on the field. LA plays more like a euro team, Sounders plays like a high school team.

  4. Skeeter says:

    As long as Schmid is at the helm I won’t be purchasing season tickets again

    • downintexas says:

      I’m sure there are about 20 other people who would be more than happy to get them.

    • Bobb says:

      Some of his decisions were certainly strange, but e came up against the one coach who has more wins (since Sounders joined) and more MLS Cups. Before you demand change look at TFC and NYRB, two teams that are similar to LA and Seattle in resources.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I agree and disagree. I do think Sigi is the difference between TFC and Seattle. Seattle has become a consistent playoff team where they have not.

        However, Seattle’s performance is pretty consistent, and not yet good enough, which begs the question why the Sigi Title formula is not working like at UCLA, LAG, Columbus. Turf? Turf impacting recruitment? Tactics? Players?

        • Shake says:

          A year of playing on that turf ruins the players’ knees. Every year it’s the same story, so and so is injured, so and so isn’t at full strength.

          Get a grass pitch and that all goes away.

  5. PD says:

    The 5 midfielder lineup was odd, but the non-call handball in the first 15 minutes was a real shame for Seattle. You could argue the red missed another one in the 88th as well…

    • Bobb says:

      Ridiculous excuse, one shouldnt have been given and the other was NOT on replay.

    • solles says:

      blahblahblha whinysoundersfan blahblahblah

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Yes… because that call would have most definitely made up for the other 92.9 minutes of the game where the Sounders were chasing.

      I’d add that although Twellman went on a rant about it, and his arm was extended, the ball appeared to go off his thigh.

  6. Joe says:

    PD, really?

    LA could have and should have hung probably 6 or 7 goals on Seattle tonight. Seattle looked like a scared team and Sigi’s antiquated tactics set the stage. I expect one hell of a match next week but with Seattle pressing, it’s set up perfectly for LA’s counter attack.

    Big gap in experience and class tonight.

    • solles says:

      I expect an even bigger Gals win, with the Sounders having to press from the starting whistle. The Gals are a counterattacking team and have the players to punish you.

  7. Travis says:

    very poor from seattle on the night. wilhemsson was offside on the first goal but seattle still deserved what they got on the night. highly doubt they can score 2 goals in the next game, let alone 3. they have had trouble putting the ball in the net for a while and LA will just look to sit back and counter. tiffert better do more next season once he gets a proper offseason, has been fairly poor especially the last month.

  8. Ryan says:

    Landon Donovan was great again. These playoffs are case and point why the US team is just awful without him. Another game another assist. Landon and Keane seem to have this telepathic communication where each of them know where the other is at any given time. It is really brilliant to watch. My money is on Galaxy for another cup. They are becoming the Yankees of MLS. Every year they are a good bet to win the title.

    • ed houston says:

      arena has alot to do with this. LA is the best big budget team. houston being the best low budget team. i said that last year’s LA was the best mls team ever. they are not too far off from that now.

      • Shake says:

        Last year they were the best defensive team in league history, this year they are the best offensive team in league history.

        I’m not sure who would win though, I think Saunders was a lot better last year and that could make the difference.

  9. Siberian says:

    LANDON DONOVAN!!!

  10. Philip says:

    Sounders should have bunkered like Vancouver did, then attacked at home.

  11. lassidawg says:

    The Sounders deserved to lose, any line up with Scott in there was going to get crushed. Further proof it does no good to play not to lose.
    I will say the MLS playoff schedule is a joke. With 2 weeks off after the confrence finals why are they trying to start the confrence finals so quickly, all it does is hurt the product on the field. I beleive I read somewhere Seattle was home for less than 24 hours after the game Thursday. I don’t understand why the quarters weren’t finished over the weekend and then the confrence finals start next weekend.
    Again the Sounders were out played and out coached, but I wonder what it would have been like if EJ had been able to play 90. Of course if Sigi had insisted on Scott the Sounders may have lost 3-1 instead of 3-0.

  12. soccerhorn says:

    schmidt’s strategy worked extremely well in the first half. Five midfielders really bottled up the Galaxy. Sounders had plenty of good possession in the first half, and even though they surrendered a goal in the 45th, they were right in the match.

    The problems came because Seattle went away from that strategy in the 2nd half. As soon as they subbed out the 5th midfielder, it opened up the attack for the Galaxy. Seattle was doomed after that, and they have to give a big “danke” to Gspurning that it was even as close as it was.

    Galaxy hosting the MLS Cup against Houston? Wow, it’s like deja vu all over again.

  13. josh says:

    All the praise for Gspurning is surprising, as I feel like he should have done better with the first 2 goals. On the first, why did he lunge with his feet? It looked like he was afraid to dive into the post. And on the second, he could have reacted to the cross to Magee by closing Magee down as the cross was coming to him.

    I have played keeper for 30+ years, and am the first to defend keepers when people (often ignorantly) criticize. But I know how both of those situations could have been played, and he should have done better.

    Go Galaxy. That is all.

  14. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Seattle is done. LA is just more skilled and more experienced.