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.