2011 Mar 15

Sounders miss chances, lose First Kick to LA

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 1  Los Angeles Galaxy
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

59' LA: Junínho (Todd Dunivant)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 63'), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Steve Zakuani (Miguel Montaño 84'); Fredy Motnero, O’Brian White (Lamar Neagle 79').
Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Servando Carrasco.

Los Angeles: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, AJ DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant; David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Junínho, Landon Donovan; Chad Barret (Jovan Kirovski 79'), Mike Magee (Michael Stephens 76').
Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Frankie Hejduk, Paolo Cardozo, Bryan Jordan, Miguel Lopez.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC had more scoring chances, but missed them all while the Los Angeles Galaxy took the match with a long-distance strike from Junínho.

The surprise of the day was the departure of Blaise Nkufo, who had been expected to start for Seattle. Nkufo reportedly was unhappy at Seattle after just one half season.

Los Angeles had the better play out of the starting gate, then in the 9th minute Fredy Montero saw an opening 25 yards from goal and came close, forcing a flying save at the post by Josh Saunders.

A minute later James Riley's back pass was a horrible mistake as Mike Magee was between Riley and Kasey Keller to claim the ball, but Magee missed the shot largely due to Keller hustling out to cut down the angle.

Then Chris Birchall came close for LA with a low shot from 25 that missed by inches.

Seattle took the momentum from the 25th minute. An Erik Friberg free kick was sent in to Alvaro Fernandez for a header, but right to Saunders. On Seattle's first corner kick play Fredy Montero blasted a rising shot close to goal but it hit Saunders in the chest. Steve Zakuani got an open shot from 20 yards and again it went right to Saunders. Then Friberg had an open 20-yard shot that was bent just wide of the near post.

Los Angeles closed out the half with a 30-yard free kick that David Beckham landed on the roof, missing the top corner by an inch.

Los Angeles' first shot of the second half was a long one powered low up the middle by Birchall, and Keller parried it wide.

58' LA: Junínho (Dunivant). LA scored when Todd Dunivant fed Junínho for another long shot up the middle. Keller got his fingertips on it but couldn't prevent the ball from finding the back of the net. 1-0 LA.

Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso had the next chance, rocketing a shot from 19 yards that skimmed off the top of the bar.

The other way, Donovan was served on a counterattack and was open for a shot that bounced off the top near corner and went over while Keller was in a good position.

At 72' Seattle newcomer O'Brian White ought to have scored when he was open for Zakuani's cross, but somehow White missed a shot that his mother could have finished. White was left lying on his back holding his head in dismay. Three minutes later Montero's cross to the far post gave substitute Roger Levesque a chance, but his marker barely beat him to the ball. At 84' Montero's long try was pushed wide by Saunders. Just into added time Lamar Neagle, making his MLS debut, forced a save when he headed a long service on goal.

          SEA   LA
Shots:     14   10
Saves:      1    9
Corners:    4    4
Fouls:     10   12
Offsides:   2    1

24' LA: Birchall cautioned for spilling Alonso near the touch line
44' SEA: Friberg cautioned for chopping down Donovan
45' SEA: Gonzalez cautioned for dissent
90' LA: Beckham cautioned for a tactical foul

Referees: Alex Prus; Greg Barkey, Paul Scott; Mark Kadlecik

Attendance: 36,443 (Sounders record for a MLS match)

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "Sounds like the bugaboo from preseason. I thought we forced some good situations, forced some saves. We were around it. The Galaxy, I thought, were dangerous all night on the counter attack. That's the way they were playing. Beckham and Donovan were cheating a little bit defensively and had opportunities to counter. We played a little bit too much on the right side in the first half. We tried to spread the game more and get Steve Zakuani involved more in the second half, which I think we did and I thought we created some decent stuff from that. A tie, I think, would have been a fair result. But it is what it is. I was proud of the effort. I thought the effort was good. I thought the soccer, at times, was good. We still could get better, but that's a coach talking."

On Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders' performance: "He played well tonight. One of them we hit him with it, but he did alright. He came up when he needed to come up. He made some saves...But there's the other chances that we just put wide as well, that we needed to put in. Friberg's chance, where he was very unlucky, and O'Brian White's chance in the second half were two very good chances."

On O'Brian White's performance: "I thought O'Brian did well. I think his play with his back to the goal is something that we're working with him on. It can still get better but I thought he was active, he was busy. He stayed high with their back line and as a result of that I think he had two or three good chances. The one he just mis-hit a little bit -- a lot of times he just bends those balls into the corner. The one in the second half, he put wide. Another one in the first half he should have probably hit the first time but you know if you're a forward and you can get three or four good chances a game that's a good thing."

On Erik Friberg's performance: "I thought Erik was good. I thought he ran out of gas and we had to make subs in some different areas but I thought for the first 60 minutes he was very good."

On losing five in a row to the LA Galaxy: "It's not five times in a row unless you throw out the Open Cup game. So it's three in a row. Obviously for us that's disappointing right now. Sometimes you just have a boogie team, you know, a team that just, for some reason, it just doesn't work for you. And right now, they're that team for us. I think they know that in their locker room. In the past couple of games when we've played them, I think they've dominated us a lot more. I didn't think that was the case today."

On Lamar Neagle's debut: "It was alright. It's a tough game to come into. He almost beat Saunders on that flick header. He had good presence. He knew where he was at that moment. He just missed on the cross where he tried to hit Fredy Montero. He got in on the left and saw Fredy and tried to get the ball in low and behind the defense. I thought he did well."

On the road game at New York: "We've been a good road team in the past. It's a matter of us going out there and playing and doing the same. We have the most difficult opening two games of anybody in the league for sure. The Galaxy gets an extra day of rest for them to play, and they're playing at home. It is what it is. We have to accept it and we have to move on. We're not afraid of New York and we just have to make sure we're ready to go, physically."

On Hurtado's return: "I thought he played well. I thought defensively he was good. The goal we gave up, I'm not happy with that, but I don't think he was involved there. We need to step up to Juninho. I thought defensively 1v1 he was good. And his left foot's gotten better because he did a lot of work on that last year when he was injured."

On the rematch between Seattle and Los Angeles later in the season: "There's a lot of games between now and July 4 so we have got to focus on those other games. Our guys are (peeved). Our guys are disappointed, especially since it's the opening game of the season. We haven't lost an opener before. At the end of the day, as I said before this game, there's going to be 33 games left after this one and there's still a lot of points out there. So we gotta lick our wounds, go forward, and take care of points as we go. If we had played absolutely horrible, if we hadn't created any chances and if they had dominated us from A through Z, then you'd see me banging my head against the wall. But that isn't the case and I think we'll be able to move forward."

Steve Zakuani

On the play of O'Brian White: "I thought he did well. He's been with the team for two or three months now, I thought he did well. Obviously I think he'll be the first to say that he had some good chances (on goal), but that happens. I think he did well. He gave us an outlet. He was moving. He kept the ball. He stayed strong up there, and he was on the pitch for a very long time. As long as he was out there he was always a threat. He's someone we haven't played with before - that's the first game he's played ever, so we're going to have to get used to him and he's going to have to get used to us. A couple times we maybe misread each other, but that's normal. We were happy. It's a step in the right direction. As he stays with us he'll get better."

On White's activity on the pitch: "Yeah, that's what he gives us. He's moving around. You get that first goal and then you keep going - and that's all of us though, I need to score, Fredy needs to score, OB needs to score...whoever. It's not just going to fall on him, but on all of us as a team, as a collective. Tonight we drew a blank, but New York is obviously a good pickup game to bounce back on. It's still a long season. I think the game for itself wasn't the best game, especially in the first half, but in the second half we definitely felt like we had a fair chance."

Kasey Keller

On the loss: "We got beat on a great goal, but at the same time we had lots of chances to get in this game. On the run of play and the chances I think a draw might have been a much better result out of this. Landon had a great chance that he hit the crossbar on. We had some very good chances. That's probably the most frustrating thing is that we really feel that we should have got something out of this game today."

On the team's effort and recent results against LA: "You're going to have days like that. You seem to have teams that just have your number, where it just didn't matter. You huff and puff and you just can't seem to get it against them. One of those clubs that just have your number. Then there's other teams where you beat them every time you play, and why do you have their number? Who knows? It just seems like at the moment LA has ours a little bit, regardless of how poorly we play or how well we play."

On the goal: "He's had a history of doing that to us previously. We didn't close him down and make him deviate from that plan. I think it was Birchall or Barrett who did it right at the beginning of the second half as well -- stepped in and came unmarked down the middle for a long-distance (shot). Those little things are what we have to stop. You have to step up and make guys earn stuff. Other than that I was relatively happy with how things were going in front of me. At different times we could've cleared our lines better. We came second chances when we could've smashed the ball out of bounds or up the field. I think besides Landon's little effort there we shut him down pretty well. I think it was almost a combination because he was moving around all over the place. I thought the guys in the back did a real solid job."

How effective was LA's counterattack?: "That's their style. That's what they do. They kind of back in a little bit and they have a knack at finding spots to win second balls. They win second balls and they have willing runners and maybe Landon, maybe Beckham not cheat -- because that's not fair, I saw Landon track back and I saw Beckham track back -- but they definitely read that play and when their team is going to win that second ball they take off quickly and give themselves great outlets to get out of the back. It's all about playing to a style and being creative and winning games to that style. I think LA plays very well to that style of play."

On how Hurtado looked in his return?: "He's getting there, no question about it. His pace is there. It's back. He's moving well and he has a chance at having a very good season if he stays injury-free. Unfortunately we had a pretty injury-free preseason and then all of a sudden started kind of picking up things. If we can get guys fit. Get Nate Jaqua back on the field. Obviously Steve was 100-percent today. You got Evans and Noonan goes down again. Pat Ianni had been struggling. Flaco had a little ankle issue. It's a case of going so long, looking so good in preseason and at the end everyone started getting banged up a little bit. We'll get everybody fit and everybody going and I think you saw on merit today that we have a chance of having a very good season."

Fredy Montero

On the play of Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders: "He had a good night, a little bit of luck as well."

Colorado Rapids

Bruce Arena - Head Coach

On the game: "When it was 1-0, the objective wasn't to get another goal as much as it was to keep the score 1-0. That's what we had to do. The conditions weren't easy and we were against a team playing in front of a crowd that's supportive. Our backs had to be against the wall the last 10 or 15 minutes. You have to be experienced to get out of here with a win and that's what we did."

On the Sounders FC: "They have a very similar team to what they had last year, I think. They're looking for that right combination up top, but the back line is solid. They're a good team that will fight all the way through the season and try to make the playoffs. There's not a big difference between the quality of teams in this league."

Josh Saunders

On starting: "One of those games where a lot of the things came to me and it was a lot of preparation leading up to this from the preseason. You're always prepared. You have to be prepared to do your job."

David Beckham

On the win: "It's what we're looking for. We were away from home and up against a team with great support. We'll take the three points. I thought we deserved it. It was a good night."

On playing with a lead: "Intelligence comes when we're 1-0 up. We have the ball and we work hard for each other and we've worked hard leading up to the game. We have to play well and work hard and we did that tonight."

On Sounders: "They're a good team with great support. Every time I've played here, the support has been incredible. They're always fun to play in front of. I always enjoy it and it's even better when we win."

Landon Donovan

On winning with key players missing: "There's not another team in our league that could go without two starting center backs, their starting goalie, and one of their forwards and win here. We're proud of that, but it's just the beginning and it's early."

On beating Sounders FC: "People don't realize how difficult it is to beat a playoff caliber team in this league five times in a row, three times on their field. And those three are on what everyone would say is the best home field advantage in our league. We relish this. If they want to open the upper deck, we would love it. We love playing here and we relish it."