There has been a lot of talk this week about Aug. 5 – the day Sounders FC beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, 4-0, at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders have cited that game as inspiration for the task ahead Sunday, when they must beat L.A. by at least three goals to advance from Major League Soccer’s Western Conference finals.
Less has been said about what that game meant to the Galaxy.
“They played obviously very well that day, and we had a little period as a team where we weren’t playing very well together,” Galaxy forward Robbie Keane said this week. “It’s funny. I think it gave us a kick in the backside, and after that you could see the results have changed massively.”
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In their very next outing, Los Angeles reversed the humiliation: taking a 4-0 win over rival Chivas USA. That started a regular-season-ending 6-1-3 run for Los Angeles, which outscored its opponents 20-8 along the way.
Next came the playoffs, where the Galaxy pushed aside Vancouver, eliminated Supporters’ Shield-winning San Jose on its home pitch, and then jumped to a 3-0 lead on Seattle in the opening game of this home-and-away aggregate-score series.
“A lot of guys on their team have really stepped their game up – Robbie Keane to be exact, Landon Donovan, Mike Magee,” Sounders forward Eddie Johnson said. “Those guys have been very dangerous offensively, and defensively they’ve played some good games. We know we have a lot of hard work. We know it’s doable, but I think everyone has to be on their game to make this opportunity a reality.”
In a way, the Galaxy’s rebound since its Seattle embarrassment mimics a turnaround season in which they went 3-8-2 from March through May, 9-3-2 from June through August, and 4-1-2 from September through the end of the regular season last month.
Los Angeles ended that regular season with the second-most goals in the league, behind San Jose. The Galaxy also had the second-most shots on target and the third most shots.
Individually, Keane was fourth in MLS with 16 goals, while Donovan was second with 14 assists. Keane also is tied with Houston’s Will Bruin for the league lead with four goals in this postseason: two in each of his past two games.
In the wake of that series-opening performance at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., some Sounders have said L.A. has the league’s most dangerous offense.
“In my opinion, yeah; for sure,” Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said. “They didn’t take their foot off the pedal. They didn’t leave anything from the game against San Jose. They scored three big goals. Then we defended well in the first half, except for the last minute of the first half. But they just put the pressure on for 15-20 minutes, wave after wave, and we just didn’t do enough of a good job.”
From the Galaxy’s point of view, the only disappointment was that they didn’t build even more of a cushion for the resolution match, which will send one club on to MLS Cup.
“I think if we’re critical at all, we probably should have gotten a fourth goal,” Donovan said. “When you have a team down, you have to bury them. That being said, if you would have told us at the start of the night, ‘Do you want 3-0 at the end?’ we would have taken it. But this is far from over. I, myself, have been part of bigger comebacks than this; so we’ve got a long way to go still.”
The Sounders trained Friday at CenturyLink Field. Defender Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) participated fully, while midfielder Mauro Rosales (hamstring) continued to improve. Coach Sigi Schmid said the club will reassess the players’ availability during the training session today. … Midfielder Mario Martinez also returned to training after short playing time Wednesday in the Honduras national team’s scoreless friendly with Peru in Houston. Schmid said Martinez “will factor into the game” Sunday.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer