Quick, what's the best way to exorcise demons? Why, short of having Max von Sydow on hand, you just punch those demons in the mouth, which is exactly what the Seattle Sounders did to the LA Galaxy last night. The Sounders punched them once early, LA got back up. Seattle punched them again, and LA got back up. Seattle punched them a third time and LA did what they did best, which was whine and complain that it wasn't fair and got that third punch ruled off. So Seattle punched them for realsies a third time and LA didn't get back up from that one.
For the first time in MLS history, the Sounders have ended the Galaxy's season early. They did it by being true to their style and some expert half-time adjustments by Sigi Schmid, well, and I suppose they also did it by a wonder of a goal scored by an anthropomorphised taco named Erik Friberg. In doing so the Sounders have moved past their biggest hurdle: they defeated their boogeyman.
You know the particulars of the game: two early goals from Clint Dempsey and Nelson Haedo Valdez, and Friberg capping things off late. Galaxy looked sloppy on defense yet precise on offense. Their strategy of sending seven or eight men into the box baffled the Sounders, who lacking Osvaldo Alonso, didn't have that killer defensive instinct we're so used to witnessing. But it didn't matter. Injuries to Leo Gonzalez and Brad Evans didn't stop the Sounders. Stefan Frei came up big when he was really needed, saving a shot off the foot of Gyasi Zardes, a player who looks so inept when he suits up for America but was the Galaxy's best player last night. But unlike the Galaxy, every player for the Sounders was their best player of the night.
In the end the Sounders won. The marquee players of the Galaxy ended the night soaked, cold, and sad because the defending MLS Cup champions flamed out to a superior side. They tried to remain in the game by throwing elbows to the back of the head, or shoulders to the front of the head, or routinely pulling back Sounders on breakaways, or confronting and bumping into assistant referees, or flipping off the cameras, or pointing and shouting. Meanwhile the Sounders played their style and they never trailed. They remained in control from the very beginning until the very end and in doing so saved a season which was teetering on collapse.
Now this season is born again with hope renewed. None of the remaining teams should scare Seattle. The Sounders faced FC Dallas twice this season: the listless 0-0 draw in Frisco and a 3-0 victory in Seattle. The Sounders played Vancouver Whitecaps five times this season, winning three (2-0 in BC, 3-0 in BC, and 3-0 in Seattle), losing once (3-0 in Seattle), and drawing once (1-1 in BC). The Sounders played Portland four times with two victories (1-0 and 2-1 in Seattle), one loss (4-1 in Portland), and an Open Cup regulation draw that amateur referee enthusiast Daniel Radford decided he'd play god to determine an extra time outcome. The Sounders played Sporting Kansas City three times, and while results only have a loss and two draws, that loss is slightly misleading due to some atrocious refereeing decisions which wholly changed the outcome of the game.
In all of these matchups the Sounders are the better team, just like how the Sounders were the better team last night, despite what Gyasi Zardes says. And thanks to the glory that passes for MLS wisdom, Seattle gets to host the first round matchup this coming Sunday against either Vancouver or Dallas, riding a ten game all-competitions unbeaten streak, having scored 20 goals in those games while only conceding 9. When you're scoring 2.0 goals a game and conceding 0.9, well, things are looking mighty rosy for you. Their home record during those ten games is 5-0-1 +8 while their away record is 1-0-3 +3. Those are the type of results that get you into the MLS Cup Finals.
I'm all over the place here, I know that, but the crux of what I'm trying to say is this: get excited. You Hay fe'd the shit out of this season and we're seeing the dividends. We give our full 90. We stand and shout, rain or shine. This is our year. 2015 will go down as the year we stood tall, shoulder to shoulder, and we persevered through adversity to come out on top. This is our year. This is our Cup.
Great Glorious Gifs
Don't you just love it when LA comes to play in Seattle with all their big important names?
I just hope this isn't one of those games I need to forget ever happened.
Oh my goodness, an early Seattle goal!
And LA immediately ties it up. Welp.
But it doesn't matter because we scored again!
But then LA immediately ties it up again. Ugh.
This game hooked me early on and it won't let go.
They called that Andreas Ivanschitz goal back?
And they only did it after they harassed the AR?
Oh my god, Friberg you sexy son of a taco!
Now stay down, Galaxy.
Think you're gonna get that goal, Galaxy, do ya?
This game is giving me all sorts of funny feelings.
Come on, come on, you can do it, Seattle!
That's game! Yay! Throw your arms up like Friberg!
The ghost of our past is gone. I can't believe it.
Have fun with your inevitable downward slide, Galaxy.
I can't believe we advanced past LA. This is a new frontier we're entering.
Friendly reminder: Halloween is on Saturday. Check your kid's loot for undesirables.