It shouldn’t have been any major surprise that Seattle Sounders FC returned from Los Angles with a loss.
After all, the Sounders haven’t beaten the Galaxy there since 2009, and the Galaxy hasn’t lost to anyone at StubHub Center since the opening day of the 2014 season.
The surprise was how accepting — even upbeat — the Sounders seemed with their performance. Central defender Brad Evans even called it “probably our best game this year.”
Calling a 1-0 road loss the best of the Sounders’ five games this season seems like a stretch. It is better than the home loss to San Jose, but likely not better than their two wins or their draw.
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Yes, the Sounders were without designated player and goals co-leader Clint Dempsey. And without playmaking midfielder Gonzalo Pineda. But the Galaxy was without reigning Major League Soccer MVP Robbie Keane.
Coach Sigi Schmid and some other Sounders seemed to take consolation in the 10 shots the visitors put on goal. But L.A. was the only club to get any shots in the goal, the stat that matters.
Los Angeles keeper Jaime Penedo stopped all 10 shots the Sounders put on target, but there were too many times when the Sounders put the ball easily within his reach, and sometimes directly at him.
As forward Lamar Neagle said, “Some of them were a little bit ridiculous — on our part and on his part.”
And still, the Sounders could have come out of Los Angeles with a draw, except for conceding a goal.
Yes, from the Galaxy point of view it was a beautiful goal: nice free kick by Juninho, nice headed pass to the far post by Omar Gonzalez, accurate finish by Alan Gordon. But from the Sounders’ point of view there was a foul committed in dangerous territory, a defender out-jumped, and a midfielder losing his mark.
Nope. Very hard to think that was the best Sounders’ performance of the season.
Here’s another grading of the first five games:
Sounders 3, New England 0: Everything the Sounders might have hoped: two goals from Dempsey, one from Obafemi Martins, and a clean sheet from what had seemed in preseason to be a questionable defense. Grade: A
San Jose 3, Sounders 2: The earliest lead in club history should not be blown at home to the Earthquakes, nor should three goals be conceded. San Jose may be a bit better than was thought at the time, but this was one of the worst Sounders’ defensive performances ever. Grade: D
FC Dallas 0, Sounders 0: Both teams went without several of their best players, and then the visiting Sounders couldn’t capitalize on 72 minutes with a one-man advantage. Grade: Incomplete
Sounders 1, Houston 0: Seattle has invested heavily in difference-making players. That paid off here as all that separated the teams was three seconds of brilliance from Martins. Grade B-
Los Angeles 1, Sounders 0: Largely the anti-Dynamo result, as the Sounders regularly threatened but never broke through. And while the defense was generally solid, it couldn’t reach the high bar of absolutely no margin for error. Grade: C+