The bright spots were the play of Zakuani, Jaqua, Montano and Seamon. There were a few flashes from Montero and Ljungberg. The dull spots were in the play of the entire backline, the communication between Kasey Keller and his defense, the choices in the starting lineup, the ability of the central players to complete forward passes, the inability to attack down the flank until it was much to later.
Pat Noonan in the starting lineup is no longer an experiment that needs to be tested for repeatability. It isn't working. His muffed kick on the throw-in should finish that off. Pete Vagenas may be able to start if the rest of the team is at full health, but without Alonso or Evans in the midfield Pete's cautious approach fails to take advantage of the speed along the flanks, nor the height at up top with Jaqua on the pitch.
The passing from the backline is not with intent. Too often it is done merely to clear, not to start an attack. This unfortunately is not confined to a single player any longer.
Worse yet is that the Sounders are no longer an "attack the ball, then attack the goal" team. And while I said that patience would be necessary, it wasn't in order to see a team win the ball in the center third so that they could pass it back the defensive third and then turn the ball over and watch the Los Angeles Galaxy do their work.
The Freddyain (Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg) had to pick up the ball about 10 yards on the wrong side of the center-line too often. This lead to a lack of forward options and started the cascading back-passes.
At half-time Sigi made changes, but obviously too late. In a rapidly disappearing season it is apparent that Training Camp needs to re-open. There is little flow, poor shape and failures of communication too often. To paraphrase cornchops this is how expansion teams play.
Except that they aren't.
Injuries are certainly part of how the Seattle Sounders got to this point, but they are staying there because too many minutes are being given to players who either don't understand, or are incapable of playing, the Sounders system.
Stats and quotes below the break
LA - Buddle (Donovan) 19'
LA - Juninho (Stephens) 48'
SEA - Zakuani (Montero) 66'
LA - Own Goal (Riley) 77'
Seattle Sounders FC: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas (Michael Seamon 51), Freddie Ljungberg (Miguel Montano 83), Steve Zakuani, Pat Noonan (Nate Jaqua 45), Fredy Montero
Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi
TOTAL SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 1; OFFSIDES: 4; FOULS: 12; SAVES: 2.
LA Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, Chris Birchall, Juninho (Alex Cazumba 85), Michael Stephens, Edson Buddle (Alan Gordon 62), Tristan Bowen (Chris Klein 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Jovan Kirovski.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 11; OFFSIDES: 1; FOULS: 15; SAVES: 3.
SEA - Marshall (caution; Tactical Foul) 82'
LA - Cazumba (caution; Reckless Foul) 89'
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:52
Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the match . . .) “LA was better than us. We were lucky to be able to go in halftime down only one nothing. I thought they outplayed us in the first half really well. Our second half was better. We played with more energy. Obviously they started off the second half with a great goal. There were a couple of instances before the goal where we could have pressured the ball and didn’t. I think that was the story of the night for us. We didn’t get enough pressure on to them, defensively, early enough.”
(On the result . . .) “It’s obviously disappointing. We have to play with energy and I think we got over run. They were active with moving around in midfield and we never got tight enough to anybody. If you give a player enough time and space he will show you how good a player he is. We didn’t even give them anything to deal with at times. There were times guys had ten yards of space when they received the ball. And if you got that much space as a professional, you should be able to connect passes. It was really our defending that set it up. Then offensively, on the occasion we could run the ball we were so tired from chasing and defending we didn’t keep it. Then we had to chase and defend more. In the second half, we got tighter and we created some turnovers and when we got the ball where we were able to hold on to it. We weren’t spending as much time chasing it. And you know, we had a couple of chances and then we got the goal. [Mike] Seamon was in with a good chance. [Freddie] Ljungberg was in with a good chance. By that time, it was a too little too late.”
(On Steve Zakuani’s goal . . .) “It was good. Obviously we got into the game at 2-1 at that point. They made a mistake in the back and we gave a third one up. It was a good goal. It was a good ball by [Fredy] Montero through to him. And Steve finished it well.”
Steve Zakuani – Sounders FC Midfielder
(On his goal . . .) “When you score with fifty minutes to go and your one down it gives the team belief and I think we got depth. We got a good chance and [Donovan] Ricketts makes the save and unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize and they came out and got a third goal and that was the game for us. It definitely came at a good time and I felt like we could have pushed on it and maybe get the equalizer and it wasn’t to be tonight.”
(On the Galaxy’s performance . . .)“I think when you’re playing against the team who is leading the league away from home, they are at home, and they got two guys who are coming from the World Cup who are key players they are going to be pumped up. You can see even the fans were screaming and yelling every time they touched the ball. They came out with energy, credit to them. They came out the first forty-five minutes they were playing some great stuff and made some great movements. For us at halftime we were one-nil down and we actually had some good chances in the first half. It could have been one to one. As well as they played they scored one. We came out in the second half to stay in the game. I think the second half was more even both teams attacked a bit more but the only thing that is important is that we made more mistakes than them. They took their chances and did make as many mistakes and that was the difference.”
Kasey Keller – Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the game . . .) “We got beat by a better team, simple as that, nothing more. That is what we need to strive to do, bring that energy, bring that ability. The only positive thing that we can take out of this game is that somehow we weren’t down five-nil and that we didn’t lose this game five-nil and that is what I am taking out of it. We found a way to keep the score respectable and now we need to figure out the rest. We are not at the level we need to be at and obviously we need to improve drastically.”
Bruce Arena – Galaxy Head Coach
(On the team’s performance . . .) “It was a good win. I thought our team played very well tonight, although we played a little bit sloppy in the second half, and maybe made it a little bit more difficult that it needed to be. It was a great effort by the team. I think our forwards, in the first half, did a great a job. Our central midfield was excellent. Defensively, we were real good, but we obviously got a little sloppy in the defensive end of the field in the second half. I think overall it was a good performance, against a team that needed to go on the road and get some points. I think we played well. We could have been a little bit better with some of our chances. We played well, but there are some warning signs there when we got a little bit sloppy during the second half, so we have to improve on that.”
(On Landon Donovan's health . . .) “He’s injury is fatigue. It’s not a hamstring. He’s a little run down and it showed tonight. If Landon was going to play his first game back from the World Cup, it was going to be in Los Angeles. If he needs some time off, we are going to give him some time off. It may be a decision we make his week. He may not be going to New England.”
(On Donovan’s and Edson Buddle’s return . . .) “I thought they played well. Early in the game, you could see that Landon’s legs were a little heavy. He hasn’t quite, obviously, recovered from the games, travel, all of that. Certainly to Landon’s credit, his desire to be here, to be on the field and try to make us successful. Overall, I give him high grades on his performance tonight, as I do for Edson.”
(On Juninho’s goal . . .) “I thought he was outstanding tonight. We’ve seen this over the past month. He’s a very good player. He caught up to the speed of the game and the way we play in MLS. With all players, it’s a transition period. I think he’s done very well. You can see him begin to emerge. I think he’s an outstanding player. I’m so happy for his goal. We see those goals in training. It was a fabulous goal. He had a great game tonight.”
Landon Donovan – Galaxy Captain
(On being back with the club . . .) “I’m tired. There was a lot of energy and emotion in the beginning of the game with the big crowd. We put a lot of energy into the first half and then got tired, but I’m really happy to be back and I’m really happy to be a part of this team again.”
(On why it was important for him to play tonight . . .) “It’s a Fourth of July game. It’s a chance to get back here and be with my teammates and like I’ve said many times, it does no good to live in the past. This is what the present is now and so it’s my job to be here, to play and to help this team win.”
(On the play of Edson Buddle . . .) “He was great. He’s right back where he left off. I know he was a little bit disappointed not to play more in South Africa but it says a lot about him that he was able to come back, put it all behind him and just get on with it.”
(On how the team has changed since he left in May . . .) “We seem a little more mature and I think we’re starting to pass better, we’re starting to move better. The guys in midfield, Birchall, Juninho and Mikey Stephens, looked great and I think we’re just more confident as the season goes on.”
(On getting the early lead after having to chase games at the World Cup . . .) “To have a lead? It was nice. It was just good to be back a part of a team that I’m also comfortable with. The way we started the game was really encouraging. It was fun, really fun to play in that first half and be a part of that.”
(On Juninho’s goal . . .) “I would say Goal of the Year candidate. Unbelievable strike. When he hit it, you’re not sure where it’s going, but it was an unbelievable goal. I’m happy for him. We’ve seen him do it in practice a lot of times so when he gets a chance in there we want him to shoot. Even if he doesn’t put it there, even if he just puts it on goal. It’s dangerous for the goalkeeper and it’s difficult, especially with that ball, to deal with. He had a really good game otherwise and I was happy to see him get the goal.”
Edson Buddle – Galaxy Forward
(On returning to LA . . .) “You hear talk that people were happy we were back and, like I said, we wanted to play well and get a win at home. Being that it was a sold out crowd, you want to impress the crowd so that fans come back on nights besides the Fourth.”
(On scoring his 10th goal of the season . . .) “I wanted to get a goal especially coming back. First I wanted to play well but if a goal came I would take it and I’m happy with the result.”
(On Bob Bradley being present at the game . . .) “It’s always good to do well in front of Bob. To get a goal, in my first game back, and for him to be in stands is a good thing.”
(On maintaining possession . . .) “We had the ball for a lot of minutes in the first half, which caught me by surprise. I know that since I got back to practice they have been moving the ball very well but to actually do it in the game I was very impressed. It was a good thing to see.”
(On tonight’s crowd . . .) “I definitely felt that [extra excitement in the crowd]. There were cheers when we came out of the tunnel and I saw signs of “welcome back.” I did take notice of that.”
(On Juninho’s goal . . .) “It was very impressive. He struck it well and it faded right into the upper corner.”
Juninho – Galaxy Midfielder
(On his first career goal . . .) “For the first goal it is very important to show the fans that I am giving my all to them because they have faith in me.”
Sean Franklin – Galaxy Defender
(On the crowd . . .) “Amazing. I felt it was one of our bigger crowds of the season and they were great tonight in supporting us. And I hope they enjoyed a great fireworks show.”
Todd Dunivant – Galaxy Defender
(On the return of Buddle and Donovan . . .) “I think that it put them on their heels a little bit more. We were getting in behind their defense and they were sitting back. The first half especially I thought we had them on their heels the entire half and that really set the tone for the entire game. That was good and you attribute that to Edson being able to hold the ball up and Landon making his runs in behind and causing all kinds of problems for them, so they bring two pretty good elements to our team.”
(On the play of the club’s defense . . .) “We got a little sloppy in the last 30 minutes. When it was 2-0 I thought that we took our foot off the gas a little bit and lost a little bit of concentration. We have to do better and I think that we know that. We’ll correct it and move on. It was a good performance”
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