The Seattle Sounders scored goals in the 12th and 57th minutes to cut the Galaxy’s aggregate lead in the Western Conference Final to 3-2, but Keane scored a penalty kick to reestablish a 2 goal margin and ensure the Galaxy advance to MLS Cup with a 2-1 defeat on the night but a 4-2 victory over the two leg series.
Seattle came out of the gates scorching hot as Eddie Johnson scored in the 12th minute after Zach Scott played a ball over the top. Omar Gonzalez was slightly out of position, and Eddie Johnson got in behind the Galaxy centerback and one-timed a shot that appeared to come off his shin. The shot went to Josh Saunders’ near post, giving the Sounders life.
The goal came directly after what appeared to be a Sounders goal by Johnson. The ball was played in from the right flank and Johnson hit the shot in on a volley, but it was ruled offside. Replays indicated that Johnson was kept onside by Tommy Meyer and the goal should have counted, but the forward made sure he got one scoring two minutes later.
Seattle brought themselves closer in the 57th minute when Zach Scott headed in a corner kick from Christian Tiffert. Scott ran through traffic to lose his defender and then beat Edson Buddle to the near post ball. Scott was able to send a header glancing to the back post leaving Josh Saunders with no chance.
The Galaxy quelled the Sounders comeback in the 68th minute when Robbie Keane earned a penalty kick after taking on Adam Johansson in the box. Keane was on the left side of the box and faked cutting it back, took it to the endline and then looked to send a cross to the back post. The cross went off of Johansson’s left hand and may have deflected of his right hand afterwards. The referee awarded the penalty kick which Keane converted to Michael Gspurning’s right after Gspurning went to the left.
That goal seemed to kill off the game after Seattle had made the Galaxy very nervous. Seattle came out hungry, and the Galaxy did not do a good job of quieting the crowd. The early goal meant Seattle’s raucous fans started to believe, and the high pressure by Seattle never allowed the Galaxy to get in a rhythm.
The Galaxy did a poor job from the outset and never seemed to be able to string together enough possession to relieve the pressure on the backline. Meyer looked very nervous in the first 15-20 minutes, he shanked a couple of clearances and got lost on a couple of runs by Freddy Montero and Johnson. However, he wasn’t the only one as even experienced veterans like Sean Franklin and Gonzalez looked shaky trying to distribute out of the back.
The bright spots were few for the Galaxy as they looked more like the team that spent the first half of the year losing rather than the squad that had won their previous two games by a combined score of 6-1 over playoff competition. Their defense was shaky and they only held 37% of the possession. Living in their own end and giving up numerous opportunities to a talented Seattle team.
Edson Buddle seemed to have a particularly bad game for the Galaxy. There was one opportunity early in the first half when Buddle had the ball coming in from the left flank in a three on two situation, he had Christian Wilhelmsson on the right flank and Keane overlapping on the left. There was a clear opening to play Keane in behind the defense, where he would have been free, but Buddle held the ball too long and then played the ball behind Wilhelmsson. Wilhelmsson received the ball, but the poor pass slowed the break and the Galaxy could have saved themselves a lot of trouble on a very rainy and cold night in Seattle. Buddle also did a poor job of holding up play and bringing in his midfield players. Part of the reason the Galaxy could not hold possession is because Buddle did a poor job serving as an outlet and connector at the top of their formation.
Fortunately, the Galaxy did enough in the first leg to survive a subpar performance in the second leg. The 3-0 victory was enough to carry them through to the MLS Cup. The Galaxy will play the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup in a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup which the Galaxy won 1-0. The final will again be at the Home Depot Center as the Galaxy are the highest remaining seed in the playoffs.
The Galaxy only faced Houston one time during the season on May 26th when Houston prevailed 2-1 on a scorching day in Houston. The Galaxy were in the midst of a three game losing streak at the time and were not the team that they have been in the second half of the year. However, if the Galaxy play like they did in tonight’s Western Conference final, it will not matter who they play.
The Galaxy were without Landon Donovan and Juninho came in with 28 minutes remaining. Juninho was not available from the start due to injury and Donovan had a hamstring issue, but was hopeful he could play coming into the match. The Galaxy have two weeks to prepare for MLS Cup and will hope that time will bring health to Juninho, Donovan, and A.J. De La Garza.
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Next: 1:30 PM, Sat December 1st vs. Houston (MLS Cup)