The Seattle-LA Galaxy match certainly wasn't pretty, but it didn't lack for excitement. After twice blowing leads in the first 22 minutes, the Sounders prevailed, 3-2, to move into the Western
Conference semifinals Sunday against FC Dallas or Vancouver. Out of the playoffs is the Galaxy, but the defending champion could have little to complain about. As Coach Bruce Arena noted, the Sounders were gift-wrapped all three goals.
Here are three takeaways from a wild Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field:
1. Mid-season acquisitions come through for
In mid-season, following Clint Dempsey's suspension and departure for the Gold Cup and Obafemi
Martins' injury, the Sounders collapsed, losing nine of 10 games. They eventually got their scoring duo back, but even more impactful than that they got some reinforcements. Nelson Valdez, Andreas Ivanschitz and Erik Friberg -- all picked up over the summer --
had hands in Wednesday's victory.
Ivanschitz, whose left foot has given the Sounders another option on set plays, found Valdez for the second goal when Steven Gerrard, another mid-season acquisition, didn't track the Paraguayan. And Friberg, back for his second tour in Seattle, won the game with a rocket from outside the box.
2. Schmid's mid-game moves pay off.
If the Sounders had lost, it would have surely been Sigi Schmid's last game as head coach. The club's only coach since it entered MLS in 2009 seemed to be on the verge of tears after the back-and-forth match. A couple
of moves Schmid made helped turn the momentum in Seattle's favor.
Zach Scott had to come in for the injured Leo
Gonzalez, and Brad Evans moved from center back to Gonzalez's position on the left side late in the first half. To start the second half, Dempsey moved
to the left wing. The Sounders controlled the game of the second half until Friberg's go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute.
Schmid will have to make more moves for Sunday's first leg in the
conference semifinals. Evans was hurt late in the match trying to track down Gerrard, adding to the Sounders' injury woes (both Osvaldo Alonso and Marco Pappa missed the Galaxy game).
3. Galaxy pays heavily for defensive mistakes.
The Sounders owed
a big thanks to their opponent's defensive mistakes for all three goals. The goat will be goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts -- brought back into the team after Jaime Penedo was released in late July following a contract dispute -- but other players were also to blame.
Ricketts was almost entirely to blame on the first goal scored by Dempsey, but Gerrard was just as responsible as Ricketts on Valdez's goal. Friberg's winner followed the failure of defenders of
A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo to clear the ball out of the area. What was most
surprising is that this wasn't a patchwork backline Arena put together. All four defenders started on the 2014 MLS championship team.
think Christmas came early in Seattle," Arena said. "We absolutely gift-wrapped that game for them tonight. Our play in front of our goal defensively was atrocious. We just gift-wrapped those three
TRIVIA. Seattle ousted the Galaxy for the first time in four meetings in the playoffs. The Galaxy
won in 2010, 2012 and 2014, all in two-game series.
Gift wrapped is correct, except it was a typically coached bunker and boot ball affair. Did anyone notice that nearly every cleared booted ball was nabbed by a Sounder? Did anyone notice that even headed ball by the sounders found it's way to another Sounder and Sounder passes found Sounders more often than not whereas the panicked, helter skelter defending and passing by the galaxy, so typical of an Arena coached team, simply failed. The Galaxy need a coach that understands that the game has matured. Holzhacker ball no longer works....
For the last month or so, the Galaxy were a mediocre squad. What worked before, stopped working. Their offense and defense did not show up.
Bruce Arena was too preoccupied with making himself available for the National Team. (hah). Galaxy will pay $Millions for some redundant positions ... and only thousands for a Panama National Team goalie ... I guess there is a lesson in there ... somewhere. Kind of like the constraint of $50K on DraftKings ... go cheap on defense cause there are not a lot of points there, however, if you don't understand the game - then you will not recognize that it isn't luck.
Big mistake #1: Spending all that $$ on Gerrard. He can't be bothered to defend in the 6-yd box in a playoff game. Big mistake #2: Not spending that $$ to keep Penedo.
Big mistake #3: Paying Omar DP money. With the way he has been playing recently, LA could get a better defender out of some pickup game in East LA.
Different but related.... Every team has good fans! BUT, on a cold, raining, "Wednesday night" and with only 3 days notice. Seattle had 32,000 + in attendance. That's amazing! Compare, under similar circumstances. The United VS Revolution game had 11,000 also very good fans.
Some terrible decisions by the Ricketts. The 1st was the worst. What is he doing out there with a defender in position and no challenging opponent? If Gonzalez can't get to the ball it comes straight to him. Did he call off Gonzalez? He was gunshy and stayed home on the 2nd. Can't Garrard see he was stationary? He recovered his courage on the 3rd but slipped and left the door open behind. I agree there were contributing defensive errors. The fact that the defense is not communicating is a coaching problem.
Question for the rest of the day after the LAG debacle: As GM, will Arena, fire himself as head coach of the team or is he grooming is side kick, little Sancho Panza, give him a lance and a sway backed horse to take over, that is, after he fires himself? Indeed it was a pretty poor performance, though at one time I called the final score 3-2 but didn't pick a winner. Lastly, for for Coach Sigi Schmid, finally got the chango off his back and defeated the Club that let him go without what seemed a silly reason, or was there one?
Ooops, mean to say GOOD FOR COACH SIGI SCHMID, and congratulations...
On a different note, woo is that obnoxious clown doing the play-by-play?
Indeed, who ARE the guys doing the play-by-play thingamajig??? Similarly, when watching a telecast I believe it was the US U17 game the other day, I switched between the English and Spanish language broadcast, and I must say that the English version was so dry, that I thought I was watching the play-by-play of paint drying while the Spanish one was livelier!!! Anyhow, just saying!
Ric, u must love MLS commentary that suffocates the game and calls giveaways as interceptions.
f the Sounders had lost, it would have surely been Sigi Schmid's last game as head coach?
Really? That would be almost as dumb as when the Gs fired Sigi. The horrible midseason resulted from MLS and USSoccer decisions taking Dempsey out of play and injuries to key players. There's always a few hotheads who think they know better than the coach, but the overwhelming majority of Seattle faithful show up in. Droves and support Sigi.
So typical of Arena to take credit for the SOUNDERS' win. It's all about him, all the time. A tale of two coaches--one you'd love to have s beer with and the other a self absorbed prig.