There was a lot to be nervous about heading into the last game of the regular season against the L.A. Galaxy. The narrative has been spoken, and then some, throughout the past few weeks. As the whistle blew at 8 p.m. and the 66,000 plus got to their feet to cheer on the hometown boys, it was clear from the get go that the Sounders team on the pitch was a much different Sounders team from the past two months.
As the game progressed to its 1-1 finale, there was a lot to cheer about along the way. Clint Dempsey finally scored his first goal, motioning to his watch as celebration that he knew it was finally time. Michael Gspurning got his mojo back and showed going forward he is the confident goalkeeper required for the playoffs. The Sounders played with heart, fury, intensity and showed the desire to win that seemed to have been absolutely sucked from the team during the losing streak.
Still, in the end, the Sounders ended with a 1-1 tie, that was only a 1-1 tie thanks to a missed call by the referees to close out the first half. Those calls happen, and with the 1-1 tie, the Sounders regular season draws to a close. There is no more time for bemoaning bad losses and how to rebound from them. The narrative has become much simpler -- win on Wednesday and keep playing, lose on Wednesday and go home. The two months ago Sounders looked like they wanted to go home. Last night's Sounders look like they want to stay up till the bitter end.
SEA - Clint Dempsey (Lamar Neagle) 30'
LA - Robbie Keane 78'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Marc Burch, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey, Adam Moffat, Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales 78), Lamar Neagle (Andy Rose 87).
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Alex Caskey, Eriq Zavaleta.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Dempsey, Moffat 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Moffat 2); FOULS: 15 (Alonso 3); OFFSIDE: 6 (Johnson 5); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Burch 3); SAVES: 5 (Gspurning 4).
LA Galaxy - Jaime Penedo, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Kofi Opare, Greg Cochrane, Michael Stephens (Hector Jiminez 65), Robbie Rogers (Jose Villareal 78), Marcelo Sarvas, Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Rowe, Tommy Meyer, Leonardo, Laurent Courtois, Rafael Garcia.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Keane, Zardes 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Keane 2); FOULS: 12 (Rogers, Sarvas 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4 (Donovan 3); SAVES: 3 (Pinedo 3).
LA - Robbie Keane (caution) 43'
LA - Marcelo Sarvas (caution) 60'
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: Gregory Barkey, Frank Anderson
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly cloudy and 57 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the game...) "Overall I was happy with our play today. I thought putting the midfield together the way we did and playing the two up front-Neagle and Eddie Johnson-I thought, especially in the first half, resulted in some good possession for us and I thought we created some good chances. We need to make better use of those chances. I know we were a bit fortunate on the one that got cleared off the line because apparently everybody is saying that was in. Maybe luck is turning for us a little bit. Then when they score, they do well to keep the pressure on. I'm sure that's not the shot he wanted to hit-to pound it into the turf-but he did and it goes into the goal. We had some chances on the other end of the field. I thought we were close to finishing one or two more of those, but overall the flow of the game and our play I thought was a big improvement over the way we had been playing. It's certainly a bit step forward as we move into the playoffs on Wednesday."
(On ending the losing streak...) "The most important thing is that we play well and get results. I think today it was important, as well, to stop the bleeding a little bit, so to get a tie out of it-we had a win that was almost there, we gave up a goal after we had the lead and we talked about playing to zero at halftime. We also played the team that's the two-time defending champions and we played them even, and even had more at times. We just have to continue to know what that did for us and build upon it."
(On Clint Dempsey's goal...) "It was good to see Clint score. I think that was important for him. It takes a lot of pressure off of him...He's going to be more confident and that allows us then to make sure that we find him. I thought we did a good job of finding him. It's the first time we've played like this in midfield, so it's a matter of continuing to sharpen how we're going play in that unit of four players in that formation. In terms of being up one-nothing and giving up a goal, obviously you want to keep it tight in the back-we gave up a little more possession, but it isn't like this is the same thing that's happening over and over or something like that. The one time we gave up a goal in the Portland game it was really late, it was off a cross and a header and we lost a man. You try and hit all those things and make sure you do those things well. If there was a common theme of the same thing happening in terms of the same type of goal or the same types of breakdowns, then it's something you have to address."
(On the different look in midfield...) "I think the change in shape helped our team. I thought we did alright, we built some triangles. I thought Clint found the ball more, I thought we had players to play forward, as well, so I thought we put good pressure on them also. It's a little bit of work for Evans and for Moffat sliding in and out like that, and it's something they have to get used to and the coordination needs to get better. Overall I thought it was pretty good."
(On the play of Michael Gspurning...) "I thought he was all right. He made that big save going to his left in the first half...He kept things close. There were a couple of rebounds he gave up that he kept close and he did well with the goal-I don't think there was much he could do."
(On having to go through the play-in game...) "Adam [Moffat] told the team-last year that's where Houston was. Houston finished fifth and they got to MLS Cup. It doesn't matter where you are. You just have to win your games and move forward. Certainly Wednesday is a game you have to win because it's a one-off. And then after that you get into the next series and you work on that aspect of it. We have to be prepared Wednesday. We owe Colorado one. It's good that we're both on the same rhythm and that they play tonight, as well. So we'll see how it goes."
(On having a chance by just making the playoffs...) "It's the same thing. We talked about that. We said the most important thing is you have to be invited to the dance. It doesn't matter whether you're first, second, third, fourth, or fifth. So we have the play-in game at home. Houston had it away last year. The Galaxy had it at home, beat Vancouver and forward from there. We are capable of doing the very same thing and there's enough ability and enough talent there that we can go ahead and do that. Tonight, Leo Gonzalez didn't play because we wanted him to make sure he was ready for the playoffs. We held Mauro a little bit because he's been having some knee issues, so we'll make sure he's ready for the playoffs, as well. Eddie was tightening up, so that's one of the reasons we took him out of the game, to make sure that he's ready for Wednesday, as well. Our team will be ready to play."
(On the status of Obafemi Martins...) "We'll see. We've given him a couple days here to rejuvenate and recover a little bit because we knew he wasn't going to play tonight, so we'll see how he is tomorrow. Hopefully if not in a starting situation, hopefully he's a guy, if we need it, can come off the bench for us on Wednesday. If not, he's a guys if he can't get through Wednesday, he's fresh for the weekend."
(On the formation up top...) "Mauro (Rosales) has played up front for us before so we push Mauro up front. We thought he could drop off and find some things. Lamar (Neagle) was also getting beat up pretty good and was starting to get hurt, so by taking him off and pushing Dempsey up front, we figured Rose could come in and get some corners, get some balls into the box and help us win some of those."
(On finishing well...) "Every team wants to finish well. Look at DC's game against Houston today. DC is unlucky to not get a better result. Every team wants to finish well and have their fans leave with a good taste in their mouth"
(On the pressure of the playoffs...) "The pressure in the playoffs is always the same-the pressure is that you want to win MLS Cup. Nobody cares when you get knocked out what round you got knocked in and nobody cares what position you were in when you started the playoffs. All they care about is where you finish in the playoffs. Today New York won Supporters Shield, [but] if New York gets knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, nobody is going to talk a heck of a lot about the Supporters Shield, they are just talk about them getting knocked out. That is the reality of the sport and that is the pressure all of the coaches in this league live in.
(On preparing for a game on Wednesday...) "The regen starts now. Guys have to make sure they eat the right things and to put some things into their body. They got to get into cold baths tonight and things like that. Tomorrow they must have a good regen to help them recover. They will be more sore Tuesday and by Wednesday they will be able to play. The mind is a strong piece of the body that can carry you through when your body isn't feeling so well."
(On playing a playoff game at home...) "Keep the faith, got to come out again. It is fantastic to look at our crowd and setting an attendance record for the fifth year in a row. I don't think people understand how much work the front office puts in and that's a reflection on the entire organization. Just like the sporting side-being able to make the playoffs five years in a row is not all that common in this league. Every team sometimes, when it slips up and doesn't make the playoffs, gets some allocation money it's easier to rebuild and get yourself back up there, but to stay in there year in and year out is a difficult task. The sporting side has done that well but our fans, and what they do in our front office here to get the fans out here, and the experience they have in the stadium will continue to be a solid one and we will continue to put everything we can every time we play for them."
Clint Dempsey - Sounders FC Forward
(On getting your first goal with the Sounders...) "It is always good to get your first goal with the club and hopefully it will continue. I was brought in here to score, to get assists, and help this team in the playoffs. We have a big game on Wednesday and we need to get on a good run."
(On the feeling of getting your first goal...) "It is always good to score. You don't want to have a goose egg for the season. It is good to get on the score sheet and hopefully they will start coming a little easier now. I knew that it was just a matter of time, but more important are the goals that we will be scoring from here on out. Those will count the most because they are coming in the playoffs. We need those to get the results we want and to get far [in the playoffs]."
(On the quick turnaround...) "It is something that both teams have to do, and it is better for us to play at home. It would have been nice to get the win tonight and not be in this situation, but at the same time at least we don't have to travel. It is always good to play at home in front of the fans here. Hopefully they will be behind us and push us on through."
(On if you owe Colorado something extra after your last matchup...) "We have to play well. It is going to be a tough game, but we need to go out and play hard. We need to fight for each other and not conceive goals as easy. If we can keep a clean sheet we have the quality up top to score goals and we should be able to get it done."
(On getting the tie tonight and what it does for confidence moving forward...) "It is good to look at it in the positive way. At least by getting the draw tonight we are able to play a home game on Wednesday instead of having to travel, because it is a short turnaround. We just need to keep working hard and get on a good run, because we did have the four game losing streak. Now we need to get things right, and we have the quality on this team to do it. I'm not worried about the game from here on out."
(On playing in these playoff games before...) "I was fortunate enough to play in a semi-final and two final games. Hopefully I can do one better and we can win a final game here. That is what the goal is, to bring an MLS Cup to this city and we have the quality of a team to get that done. We just need to put together quality performances to get it done."
Lamar Neagle - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On tonight's performance...) "We can take some bright spots from it. I think definitely in the first half we had some chemistry we've been wanting for a few games now, so that's a positive. We would have a result and skip this one, but it's the playoffs now so it's a whole new season and we're ready."
(On getting the first-half goal...) "That's a few of the things we've done in the past-we come out really hard and end up not getting a goal and this time we ended up getting one, so that's good. Just sustaining that pressure and keeping them in the back is what we were planning on doing."
(On winning Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year...) "I love giving back and I'm from the area, so I might as well give back to the places that helped me out along the way."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On Fan Appreciation Night...) "It was time to say thank you to the fans and for their support this year. It's a good idea to have Fan Appreciation Night. Of course we wanted to win, but now we are in the playoffs and we'll see the fans on Wednesday. That's the good thing-we will have great support when we need it against Colorado."
(On preparing for the playoffs...) "It's just looking forward now. We wanted to avoid this game [against Colorado] but now we got it. All of our minds are ready for Wednesday and that's the most important thing."
(On preparing for another match in a few days...) "We know how to train for a game in three days and that isn't an issue at all. Of course everybody will need a special energy for playoffs. We know a lot of the fans that were here today are going to be in the stands on Wednesday to cheer us on. It is big that we at least have this game at home."
Djimi Traore - Sounders FC Defender
(On tonight's performance...) "The result is not the best for us because we tried to avoid the game on Wednesday, but it's done and we have to move forward. It's good for us because Colorado beat us badly last game and we would like the revenge. I think we will try to do everything to correct that."
(On preparing for playoffs...) "It's the same. [Colorado] played today and they lost [...] We can go into the game with more confidence. It's nice to have everyone back on the team and now the playoffs start Wednesday night and for us it's a great opportunity.
(On the team's confidence...) "To be honest, for us we lost four games in a row and it was important to play well and don't lose because LA is a really good team, and I think we did very well. But unfortunately we drew, and it's like that, and now our confidence is back. We never lost anything from the team it was only a matter of getting everybody healthy and now we can see the end of the tunnel-everybody is ready and everybody is there to play for the playoffs."
Adam Moffat - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On if history shows that playoff seeding might not matter...) "Yeah, it doesn't at all. You look at last year, and the Galaxy finished in fourth, I believe, and they almost lost that play-in game against Vancouver last year, but then once they got to the series games they beat San Jose and eventually ended up getting to the final. For us in Houston, we had to travel for our game and we still made it. So it doesn't matter. You look at teams like [Real] Salt Lake, Colorado when they won, they all weren't in the greatest positions. It really doesn't matter. Once you get in there it's all about producing your best, and if not then you're probably going to lose. We need to get back the form that we had a couple of months ago and I feel like we could definitely win."
(On the team's overall play today...) "I think we played well. I think that we're disappointed that we didn't score more goals, and put more in the back of the net. That's what you've got to do. It's frustrating, but at the same time we have a home game on Wednesday and we expect to win. Hopefully we take care of business."
DeAndre Yedlin - Sounders FC Defender
(On his play...) "I think that young people, especially now with the way the game is changing, are able to make a much bigger impact on the game just because of the athleticism. Obviously soccer is a lot bigger in the U.S. now, so just watching games in Europe and watching games in the MLS younger players are learning more and more every day. I think with each game, young players are able to come in and show that we're the future of this league."
(On the busy week and the team's overall chemistry...) "We put the past away, and part of being a professional is putting things away and being able to not be distracted by outside things. We're just staying focused, and hopefully everything goes well."
Bruce Arena - LA Galaxy Head Coach
(On the game...) "Competitive game. Pretty even game. It was a good result for us."
(On the missed call on the apparent goal...) "Obviously I don't see it from where I am, but I was told it was about a yard over the line. For some reason, I think we should be able to see that one. We're fortunate to get out of it, not using that as a major sticking point in the game."
(On Robbie Keane's goal...) "It was a big goal. The second half, we played better. The game slowed down a little bit and we got a little more comfortable on the surface. We're pleased with the point."
(On the team's defense...) "They played well tonight. I thought it was Omar's [Gonzalez] best game in a while. Kofi Opare has been really solid for us. He's a good young player. We play two first-year players with Kofi and [Greg] Cochrane so I'm real pleased with those young players. And Gyasi [Zardes] as well, so we got incredible experience tonight for our young kids. I think down the stretch, our veteran players made a difference for us."
(On the tough defending at the end...) "It was a good game in preparation for the playoffs for us. We're pleased with that."
(On Robbie Rogers...) "I thought Robbie held up really well physically. We have to get him a little more comfortable in the attack, but I thought his game was fairly balanced. He certainly did a good job defensively. If we can get a little more out of him in the attack, it will be a positive."
(On facing Salt Lake...) "I don't remember the last time we've seen them. We had a good series with them this year. They're a very talented team. We look forward to the game. It will be a good series."
(On Robbie Keane's play...) "He had a solid game and when he gets that goal, you have to say he had a very good game. Goals are rare in this sport and Robbie seems to get them at the right time. Overall, I thought the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game, he was very influential for us in terms of leadership. He and Landon [Donovan] really stepped up and got the players organized and confident so we could walk off the field with a point."
(On being undefeated in the black kits...) "I mean, whatever (laughs). I'm not quite sure it's the uniforms. You put 11 bad players in that kit and I don't think you're going to win too many games."
(On how this game propels them into the playoffs...) "We'll only know once we're done with the season. We've had a good run since August. We've done a good job and we'll hopefully be healthy by the weekend when we play. We'll be in a good position to be competitive and hopefully win the first series."
(On how the team is physically...) "We had a few scrapes [tonight], but for the most part I think we held up OK."
Robbie Keane - LA Galaxy Forward
(On the game...) "It's always dangerous when a team goes 1-0 up and when you're playing against the Galaxy, we know we're quite capable of scoring at any time and that was the case. So maybe in the first half they thought the game was over, but in the second half we came back strong and looked like the team that was always going to score."
(On his goal...) "It was a great touch for Hector [Jimenez]. I think Hector, when he came on, made a massive difference. He was getting in behind them, he was difficult for them. He was tracking in behind where it gave me time to come up and then drop it. A couple times before that he put the ball back and had a shot the goalkeeper saved. Then on the goal he touched it back to me and I knew I had to just hit it into the ground because there were bodies and with this turf I knew it was going to take off and lucky enough it did."
Landon Donovan - LA Galaxy Forward
(On the performance...) "That was the type of performance that champions make and we got away from that a little bit in the last few weeks but I thought tonight was just a bunch of men that put it in and put in a real performance. It's a little disappointing because we probably should have won the game but to fight back after all that and still get the goal and get the tie we needed was really important."
(On the defensive performance...) "Our back four was great. I don't think they had too many great chances. Even the goal was really fluky. I thought they were terrific. The way we handled the end of the game was very mature and playing with two rookies on the left side of our defense so I think that says a lot about the depth we built. To come into a game like that and have those two in the back line and the back line as a whole perform that way was very good."
Robbie Rogers - LA Galaxy Midfielder
(On the game...) "It was a great game. It was a tough game and I was surprised I lasted as long as I did. I thought I put in a pretty good shift defensively. I almost had that chance in the first half., but I've seen myself improve every week since I've come back from injury so I want to keep progressing. Obviously we're going to the playoffs now so it's a good time to really help our team out but the guys did so well today; such a great team performance. It really kind of made my job easy. I thought defensively as a team we were really good so it was enjoyable."
(On improving in the final third...) "Yeah, I think a lot of it comes with fitness and game sharpness so of course it would be great to get more games but there's no time for that now. I'll just try to take this week and get some extra fitness, get some extra work and be ready for Sunday."