The Seattle Sounders did not need to win on Sunday. Rather, they just needed to keep things close for the return leg next week at CenturyLink Field. In that very specific way, we can reasonably deem the 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy "mission accomplished." Nothing to get too excited over, but nothing to pull your hair out over, either.
What's a little more concerning is how the Sounders have basically been playing for the past month. What was once a high-flying team that was tons of fun to watch, has taken a much more buttoned-down approach over their last five or so games. The results are hard to argue with, granted (1-1-3), but the Sounders have seemed perfectly happy to defend like crazy and let two or three players go it alone on offense. It's been frustrating to watch, to say the least.
Still, the Sounders are generating their share of chances. Clint Dempsey got two awesome looks and the Sounders were inches away from connecting on a couple others. Call it unlucky if you want, but the Sounders probably benefitted just as much going the other way. Stefan Frei made three great saves and was helped by the woodwork on two other occasions. The Sounders may be committing numbers to the defense, but it's not like they have been dominant either. They gave up 20 shots in this one, which even accounting for location, is still more than would be ideal.
Of course, the Sounders still have a great opportunity to turn this around. Scoring a couple goals next week would likely put the Sounders through to their first MLS Cup final and quell any serious concerns we may have over the offense. If they don't? Well, the season is over and we can worry about it then...
Seattle Sounders FC 0 - LA Galaxy 1
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Venue: StubHub Center
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Gregory Barkey
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar
Weather: Sunny and 75 degrees
LA -Marcelo Sarvas (A.J. DeLaGarza) 52'
SEA - DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 4'
LA - A.J. DeLaGarza (caution) 8'
LA - Stefan Ishizaki (caution) 35'
SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 37'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez; Brad Evans-C (Jalil Anibaba, 89), Micheal Azira (Andy Rose, 80), Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Chad Barrett 62); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Djimi Traore, Kenny Cooper, Cam Weaver
Total Shots: 10 (Clint Dempsey, 4)
Shots on Goal: 3 (Clint Dempsey, 2)
Fouls: 14 (Zach Scott, 5)
Offside: 2 (2 tied at 1)
Corner Kicks: 5 (Marco Pappa, 3)
Saves: 2 (Stefan Frei, 2)
LA Galaxy - Jaime Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza (Dan Gargan 61), Tommy Meyer, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers; Stefan Ishizaki (Alan Gordon, 80), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas (Baggio Husidic 69), Landon Donovan; Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Rowe, Todd Dunivant, Kenney Walker, Jose Villareal
Total Shots: 20 (Robbie Rogers, 4)
Shots on Goal: 3 (3 tied at 1)
Fouls: 11 (2 tied at 2)
Corner Kicks: 6 (Stefan Ishizaki, 5)
Saves: 3 (Jaime Penedo, 3)
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On tonight's match:
"We wanted to come out and put ourselves in a position where we could do some damage at home. Obviously we would have rather preferred a tie or a win, but only losing one-nothing, we don't feel horrible about that. We're disappointed for sure, but we don't feel horrible. There were bits of the game that they certainly dominated, but we were happy. I thought we had some good looks, there is the double save that [Jaime] Penedo made in the first half, right before they scored their good off the deflection, Clint has a really good look at that end of the field, sometimes it always happens in soccer and then the ball goes the other end and you take a goal. But overall, I was pleased with what we did out there. We gave away maybe a little too much possession, but I was happy."
On Seattle's defense:
"Well that goal really resulted. The start of that goal was on the right hand side of the field. They were playing three against two for us for like a minute out there, and we didn't get a defender out there to help turn it into three v three. So that allowed the ball to get back in the middle, and then [Marcelo] Sarvas hits a shot, which I think Stefan is going to save, but if it doesn't get the deflection you know it ends up going in. I thought Micheal [Azira] did well, the reason I subbed him out at the end is because I thought he was running out of gas a little bit and we also want to get Andy Rose in to help us a little bit. Gonzalo [Pineda] dropped in and helped us defend as well. But again, offensively it's obvious we need to do a better job. But defensively I thought we did what we wanted to do."
On Zach Scott staying on the field:
"I think we benefit a little there. I think in most games, the referee would have pulled that second yellow so I'm not going to pretend I didn't see that or argue about that. But there were also other calls that I don't understand. I don't understand how it's not a foul when [Brad] Evans gets kicked early in the first half. He's not the kind of guy to lay on the ground and dive, so if he is down he got hit. I think one time Omar [Gonzalez] was screening the ball and he just waited for a little touch and then he fell over like who knows what and all of a sudden it's a foul. I thought, ‘are you kidding me?'. So a couple plays there, but we were fortunate that Zach [Scott] stayed on the field."
On expectations from LA in the second leg:
"The same thing, another battle. I know they don't let you reporters in on practice so you guys can never find anything out. But I think [Marcelo] Sarvas' situation now is a little bit in question because he looked like he was hurting. Actually [A.J.] DeLaGarza looked like he was hurting pretty bad. So if they are missing those two guys, it might come to benefit us. But we won't be able to find that out because you guys never get to report on that."
On takeaways for the second leg:
"We have always said to our team, we got to put ourselves in position in game one so that we can wrap it up in game two. We've always came up with a positive result when we've had game two at home. Last time we were in this position, we lost here three-nothing so this is a lot better. We know we're capable of stuff at home, our fans are going to be behind us, it's going to be packed and I think that will help spurt us on."
On being down a goal:
"Accumulated experience, but also this team is a little more hardened than teams in the past. We reacted alright with a goal down. [Chad] Barrett had a couple of times where he got to the end line, had some crosses that barely missed. There was one time he was offside coming in, I think somebody else had the ball that came through on the right hand side and they tried to play back across. So I thought we created four really good chances, even after we were down one-nothing."
On LA playing wide:
"Sometimes when you watch them play, they got the ball on one side of the field and the other winger standing within one yard of the touchline. So they felt they had success there against Salt Lake to really open the game up. What they are hoping for obviously is that we push out early and wide, stretch ourselves and open up the middle, and that was just not something that we were going to do."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER GONZALO PINEDA
On the absence of Osvaldo Alonso:
"I think you always miss Osvaldo, but Mike did a good job. He was very good support for me, so I think we need to move on and be okay for the next game."
On takeaways for the second leg:
"I think we need to be a little more aggressive and play forward earlier because sometimes we make too many touches in the midfield and we need to play forward with Oba and Clint. But I think that is a part of these kind of games. When they are at home, they try to push too much, and maybe we need to be smarter but at home, we will be different."
On the midfield:
"I think that we tried to hold a little bit. We knew before the game that they will try to push us and try to always be in our midfield, but we just tried to hold, and I think we did a good job of that. Maybe the thing that I'm not happy about is that we need to play quicker and play forward to be dangerous with Oba and Clint, but sometimes we have good looks."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER ZACH SCOTT
On playing at home:
"We've always played well when we are at home, especially in the playoffs with that good result. I think we are fine with where we are at, especially considering the performance we had today."
On playing with a yellow card:
"I don't know how else to play to be honest with you. A lot of times I tell that line, and today was especially frustrating considering the way the ref called the game. But that is just something that I've just got to deal with as a player and move on. It's fine now going into the next leg, another card isn't going to keep me out of the final."
On Osvaldo Alonso's and Lamar Neagle's potential return:
"Both of those guys are integral parts of our team, but we've never been about one person. This entire year, guys have cycled in and out when there has been injuries or national team call ups. So we are excited to have Osvaldo and Lamar back, but that being said, we expect to put in a good performance regardless."
On LA playing wide:
"They do a good job of using it. A lot of the teams try to play wide, but they can't necessarily get the ball up there. LA does a good job of that and definitely stretched us a little bit at times, but a lot of this season, it's been about bending and not breaking as a defense."
LA GALAXY HEAD COACH BRUCE ARENA
On the importance of the result:
"Of course it was important. There were some chances to get a second. Obviously, they had some good chances. Not conceding a goal is important, so that's a plus. We know it's going to be a battle there. As you can see, the officiating in these games is important too. I don't think we quite understand how to deal with this competition with the rules and cards and everything. It's been crazy. I think it was a little bit hectic in this game. It is what it is. And now we will have two teams going into the game on Sunday with no one suspended, which I guess was the premise behind some of the decisions today. I will give Seattle credit. Good team. No question about it. Seattle is a good team. It will be a battle on Sunday."
On Jaime Penedo's game:
"Solid. Wasn't tested as much, but in the first half, they had a little flurry off that one throw in and he came up big. That's obviously critical in this series."
On next week's lineup:
"We don't know what we are doing next Sunday at this time. We are going to get through the week, get our guys some rest and healthy and then make decisions."
On Stefan Ishizaki:
"He played well. Obviously when they drop back their numbers the way they do, you got to use the width of the field and we were able to do that."
LA GALAXY MIDFIELDER LANDON DONOVAN:
On the goal:
"Of all the results, that was probably the third best. Two-zero or three-zero would have been second and first best. But, they had a few chances too, and keeping that team scoreless isn't easy. The first objection was not to get scored on, even if it ended up 0-0. Getting the goal was important. A little unlucky and not quite sharp enough to get the second. We are confident. We've been there twice this year. Thoroughly dominate in the first game, and we were the much better team for 82 minutes of the second game. We are full of confidence going there. We are going to get their best shot and we look forward to it."
On Jaime Penedo:
"Jaime's been terrific. At the end of the year, he gave up two to three goals that were relevantly similar in the way they were created and the way they were played out. He and Matt Reis, the goalkeeper coach, did a lot of work over the past two weeks on how to do better with those chances. And ironically, those chances that we've given up have been very similar. Guys coming in at angles, and he's made very good saves. He's been very solid and we need him to make some big saves again if we want to win another championship."
On the physical nature of the game:
"You have to play that way this point of the year. The officials made it clear that no one is getting sent off. We have to make sure we are aware of that next weekend, and we play that with that in mind. I'm sure they will as well. It's going to be even more physical next week. That's OK. We can play that way."
On Seattle's game plan:
"Very clearly their plan was to get people around that side of the field. We did a good job, especially during the second half, exploiting the right side of the field. Stefan [Ishizaki] did great. [Juninho] did a great job getting the ball there, so we could create chances. It's about adjustments. We made adjustments from those two games we played them at the end of the year. We feel confident about where we are at now. If they want to play on one side, then we will exploit them on the other side like we did today."
On Tommy Meyer:
"Tommy was great. Tommy hasn't played in a long time. He came in two weeks ago against Salt Lake and was excellent. He was very good again tonight. There were a couple of plays that were a little dicey, but you expect that from a guy that hasn't played in a long time. I thought he was terrific. I thought that him and Omar [Gonzalez] did a great job shutting down those two. Those two are very, very difficult to play against. They did a great job. And we will need the same next week from them."
LA GALAXY FORWARD ROBBIE KEANE
On the game:
"Yeah, there was. [Stefan Ishizaki] had a lot of drive on his side. We said at the start of the game we have to switch and play quickly on Ishi's side. Overall, it was a good performance for us. They came and tried to keep it tight, trying to catch us on the counterattack and get a goal, but they didn't manage to do it."
On the goal:
"Of course, you want to score a few more. It wasn't to be, so overall, I'm fairly pleased."
On Seattle's physical nature:
"It was the same as it was a few weeks ago when we played. Nothing really, really changed. Certainly there was a lot of persistent fouling on their side, rather than us. It was very clear for everyone to see. It was the same. The same as it was a few weeks ago. Very physical. It's what you expect for these type of games."
On the referee:
"He did okay. I think he did okay."
On the physicality of the game:
"We try to play for a win. We don't have kids on our team. We are grown men. If someone is going to tackle, we'll tackle back. I don't want to talk about the physicality of the game - it's what we do. It's a man's game. You have to accept that there will be a few tackles, a few elbows. It's part of the game. You have to give as good as you get."
On the score line:
"Yeah, a goal's a goal. Of course, you want to score a few more. We wanted to make sure we didn't concede today, and we didn't."
LA GALAXY MIDFIELDER MARCELO SARVAS
On the play that made him exit the game:
"I'm feeling good; I think it's a very important goal. It's a very important win, could be more but we cannot play with that, we had to play with what we had and we got a 1-0. In that play, I don't know, I got hit in my muscle very close to the bone. It was hard when I stepped on my left leg I felt the muscle pulling so I had to stop. I spoke with the doctor and I think we're going to have to do an x-raytomorrow. I don't think it's something that would keep me out of the next game."
On his goal:
"Yea, A.J. [DeLaGarza] had the ball in a position to cross and I held two steps back so he saw me and I think it was a combination movement that allowed us to have the time and space."
On the team's confidence going into the second leg:
"I think we had what we had to do, win the game. Going there, we know that it is going to be tough. It's a final, but given the situation that it's artificial grass, that the game won't be clean, we could make more mistakes, maybe it's easier for a team when you need to defend. I didn't see the team play a game this year when they had to push and score a goal. In my opinion, they play very conservative. They keep two guys higher all the time and everyone behind the box so we'll see what the situation is going to be there."
On what it would mean if his goal sends the Galaxy to MLS Cup
"If that happens, I'll be very pleased. I would be very happy for that. It doesn't matter who scores; I think we have to evaluate everyone who is running, defending, creating situations. I think our team is giving the biggest effort they can to reach the final."
* All statistics and quotes were supplied by team officials