Dearly beloved, ladies and gentlemen, madames et monsieurs, senoras y senores, brothers and sisters. We gather here tonight, in the presence of the football gods—who can be horrible, senseless, uncaring monsters but are still able to deliver like the mythical, unstoppable, showstopping force that is…Anonymous—to remember the life and times of Los Angeles Galaxy soccer. Bruce Arena‘s Los Angeles Galaxy Football Club of Carson, California, died on the artificial battlefields of CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. against Sigi Schmid‘s Seattle Sounders Football Club by the score of 3-2 in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round.
They will enter 2016 on a three-game losing streak, looking to resurrect as a relevant force in American club soccer. And while this is Seattle’s first-ever playoff win against the Galaxy, it is a victory that signals the end of a long dynasty that ended too soon but at the same time was anticipated by Our Lady of The Stoppage Time.
Friends, while we mourn the demise of a club whose defense is second-rate, whose goalkeeping is fourth division tier, and whom some of its big names are too old and too slow—not unlike the Hawthorn Football Club of 1991—we hope that the likes of Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos realize that Major League Soccer is a competition that must never be underestimated. The Race To Seis goes on for another year, but the Sounders’s Next To One journey continues.
So then, brothers and sisters in the game of soccer, take a look back at the six things we learned, followed by player ratings, as we commemorate the end of an era in the City of Angels. Nothing is sacred.
1. A high-scoring opening 15 minutes
Early on in the first half, Robbie Keane was on goal seconds in as the Galaxy were storming off the gates with their first corner of the match. The Sounders did absorb the initial blow and the match proceeded with a wide-open ball possession procession on the fast artificial surface of CenturyLink Field, replete with some heated extracurriculars for good measure.
It didn’t take long for the goal procession to begin as well. Clint Dempsey got the game going in the fifth minute with a defensive blunder to make it 1-0 Seattle Sounders. But in the sixth minute, Sebastian Lletget countered to make it 1-1. Gyasi Zardes tried to get in on the feast in the ninth minute but Stefan Frei collected it.
In the 12th minute, Steven Gerrard failed to account for Nelson Valdez, who made it 2-1. It has been a rough first season for Gerrard in the colors of the Galaxy and it seems the former Liverpool man has underestimated the talent in this competition to his own peril.
2. Some offside shenanigans at CLink
The match started to stabilize midway through the first half, with the ball possession battle continuing. In the 19th minute, LA were bringing numbers in the box, and the Sounders were holding sway. Keane hit the crossbar in the 21st minute, but Frei conceded a corner in the process. Fortunately for the hosts, it was cleared.
However, it didn’t take long for that to change. In the 22nd minute, Gyasi Zardes finally broke his slump with a goal to make it 2-2. Seconds later, in the 23rd minute, Andreas Ivanschitz made it 3-2 Seattle. Or did he? The Galaxy were clamoring for an offsides to no avail and it was indeed heard and the goal was waived off.
Alas, the Galaxy would be on notice for the rest of the game as this simply was not a night for timely defending in the Emerald City for either team. Obafemi Martins‘ first chance on goal was collected by the embattled Donovan Ricketts. Keane also had an attempt on goal in the 28th minute called back for offsides.
3. LA build steam but can’t break through
A chance for Gerrard in the 32nd minute missed wide left. After a muscle pull, Leo Gonzalez would take his leave and be replaced by longtime Sounders veteran Zach Scott. It was only in the closing stages of the first half that the match would start to stabilize in terms of production.
Meanwhile, LA continue to queue up. Lletget and A.J. DeLaGarza applied pressure in the 38th minute and Keane tried to press the question one minute later but to no avail. Giovani dos Santos had a chance in the 42nd minute saved by Frei. Omar Gonzalez would be cautioned in the 44th minute for a challenge on Martins.
First Half Team Statistics
Seattle Sounders on the left, LA Galaxy on the right
|2||Shots on Target||4|
|1||Shots off Target||3|
|73 %||Passing Accuracy||79 %|
|46 %||Possession||54 %|
4. Back to the shot-on-goal procession to start the second
With the first half ending in a 2-2 deadlock, the onus was on Seattle to make the second half their half. Early on, a 48th minute corner for the aforementioned Ivanschitz resulted in a shocker for Deuce in his bid for a Deuce. Ricketts made his third save of the game on Dempsey in the 49th minute. Martins’ next attempt in the 50th minute went over the crossbar.
In the 53rd minute, Dos Santos tried an ambitious curler but there was simply too much pace. Ivanschitz pulled a muscle challenging Zardes in the 54th minute of play and would have to be attended to. A dangerous layoff in the 55th minute was squandered for the visitors but the counter was contained by the oft-maligned Leonardo. Dos Santos’s next chance on goal was a little bit too selfish as his form continued to take a dive.
5. Erik Friberg with the breakthrough for Seattle
Midway through the second half, both teams continued to press each other for the third breakthrough goal. Ivanschitz’s next attempt, which was onsides, lacked the pace and was easily collected by Ricketts in the 66th minute. In the 68th minute, longtime Galaxy swingman Juninho cleared another teasing corner but seconds later, another corner was won for the hosts.
In the 69th, it was Gerrard’s turn to clear a delivery for a corner for Ivanschitz that was finally cleared after a while. Keane almost got in on goal again on the counter but the pass had excessive pace. In the 73rd minute, Erik Friberg took advantage of a failed clearance from Leonardo to make it 3-2 Sounders.
6. Sounders make history.
Chad Barrett, a former LA Galaxy talisman, came in at 75 minutes to perhaps kill the match off. Meanwhile, Baggio Husidic came in one minute later for the Galaxy. He earned a caution in the 77th minute for a foul on Ivanschitz. Gerrard’s attempt in the 79th minute was offsides but it was still collected by Frei anyway. In the 82nd minute, Frei delivered a great save on Frei, denying a brace for the Hawthorne, Calif. native.
Alan Gordon came in for De la Garza in the 83rd minute as dos Santos continued his slump in form on the road. Gordon’s first look on goal in the 86th minute was cleared. Another look from Gordon in the 88th minute missed wide left. Cristian Roldan came in for Ivanschitz seconds later in relief. The last several minutes saw the Sounders hold firm in the back, despite Frei earning a time wasting yellow. The 3-2 result is Seattle’s first-ever victory over the Galaxy, be it aggregate or knockout round.
Seattle Sounders on the left, LA Galaxy on the right
|5||Shots on Target||5|
|3||Shots off Target||6|
|72 %||Passing Accuracy||76 %|
|49.5 %||Possession||50.5 %|
Seattle Sounders Player Ratings
Stefan Frei 6.5, Brad Evans 7, Leonardo Gonzalez 3, Tyrone Mears 6, Andreas Ivanschitz 7, Andy Rose 6, Erik Friberg 9, Nelson Valdez 8, Clint Dempsey 8, Obafemi Martins 6, Zach Scott 5, Chad Barrett 4, Cristian Roldan NR
Los Angeles Galaxy Player Ratings
Donovan Ricketts 1, A.J. DeLaGarza 3, Leonardo 2, Omar Gonzalez 2.5, Robbie Rogers 4, Gyasi Zardes 7, Juninho 6, Sebastian Lletget 6, Steven Gerrard 4, Giovani Dos Santos 6, Robbie Keane 5, Baggio Husidic 2.5, Alan Gordon 3
The piece is ended, go in peace. And be sure to come back to the Church of Our Lady of The Stoppage Time for continuing coverage of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Amen.