2012 Nov 11
Los Angeles Galaxy 3 - 0 Seattle Sounders FC
Home Depot Center, Carson, CA
45' LA: Robbie Keane (Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin)
64' LA: Mike Magee (Sean Franklin, Robbie Keane)
67' LA: Robbie Keane (Christian Wilhelmsson)
Los Angeles: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant; Christian Wilhelmsson (Michael Stephens 77'), Juninho (Marcelo Sarvas 46'), David Beckham, Mike Magee; Landon Donovan (Jose Villarreal 84'), Robbie Keane.
Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Andew Boyens, Jack McBean, Bryan Gaul.
Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott; Mario Martinez, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey (Steve Zakuani 73'), Christian Tiffert (Andy Rose 73'); Fredy Montero (Eddie Johnson 65').
Substitutes not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa.
Match report from Ron Stickney:
Seattle Sounders FC got off to a poor start in their Western Conference final series at the Los Angeles Galaxy, giving up three goals and creating few scoring chances themselves. The Sounders will host the second leg on Sunday.
Seattle played an unusual lineup, with Fredy Montero the lone striker in front of a 5-man midfield that had Christian Tiffert playing in front of Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans. Eddie Johnson was recovering from an injury and not fit enough for a full 90 minutes. Alex Caskey got the start at left mid for his first minutes in quite awhile.
Los Angeles had just two chances in the first half hour, a long, swerving shot up the middle by Robbie Keane that Michael Gspurning had to block down before he could collect it, and a nice header by Landon Donovan from Keane's cross that went within easy reach of Gspurning.
At the half hour mark Seattle's first chance was a long shot up the middle by Evans, and it was light on velocity, making Josh Saunders' first save routine. A nice cutback move by Caskey on the left gave Alonso a shot up the middle, sent too close to Saunders.
45' LA: Keane (Donovan, Franklin). Los Angeles struck seconds before halftime. A Sean Franklin cross from the right hit Donovan and his marker and was chased down at the bye line by Donovan, who was able to chip a perfect cross over the defense past goal to a waiting Keane. The striker headed it in powerfully to the near side before Gspurning could recover from the opposite post. 1-0 LA.
Los Angeles dominated the second half, scoring two more and coming close a few other times. The first chance came just before the hour mark when Donovan got open to take a pass in front of goal and tried to set up Christian Wilhelmsson on the door step. Zach Scott, playing as a left back in place of the suspended Marc Burch, cleared the ball just as Wilhelmsson reached it.
64' LA: Magee (Franklin, Keane). Los Angeles countered after a bad pass by Mario Martinez. Keane found Franklin open on the right running around Scott. Franklin crossed a perfect roller to Magee running in alone from the left for an easy finish. 2-0 LA.
67' LA: Keane (Wilhelmsson). Just after Eddie Johnson replaced Montero, LA struck again. Donovan was sprung free on the left and his shot or cross deflected off Adam Johansson's outstretched leg as he attempted a block. The ball went to Wilhelmsson near the right post, where he settled it between Scott and Gspurning and managed to tap a shot towards the left post. The ball looked like it was going in, but Keane ran in to hammer it into the back of the net to be sure. 3-0 LA.
Just four minutes later LA substitute Marcelo Sarvas did well with a quick shot from 16 yards and Gspurning did equally well to stretch and palm it over for a big save. A few more minutes and it was Donovan nearly scoring when he tapped a shot past Gspurning from close range, and Jeff Parke slid towards goal to clear it sideways a foot before it reached the goal line. Substitute Michael Stephens had the last chance for LA, put in alone on the right, but missing the near post when he should have done better with the chance.
Seattle finally had a chance in the half as the clock reached 90, and Martinez' close-range shot was blocked.
The 3-0 road loss brings back memories of last year's first round with Salt Lake. Seattle won the return leg 2-0, but were a goal short on aggregate.
Shots: 13 7
Saves: 7 3
Corners: 8 3
Fouls: 12 7
Offsides: 5 2
15' SEA: Hurtado cautioned for a tactical foul on Donovan
Referees: Jair Marrufo; Frank Anderson, Corey E Rockwell; Sorin Stoica
Seattle Sounders FC
Sigi Schmid - Head Coach
How tough is that one to take?: "It's a hard one to take. It's very similar to what happened last year when we went into Salt Lake, so it's disappointing that we repeated that. We've beaten them at home before by four, so it's a matter of us doing that, but it's going to be a difficult task."
Why was LA able to do what they did?: "I thought our game plan going in was good. We were one minute away from coming out of the first half 0-0. I thought we did a good job of possessing the ball and so forth and played all right. I think we fell asleep on the goal at the end of the first half. They took a free kick about 15-20 yards ahead of where the foul took place. We didn't react quickly enough, we weren't sharp about it, and as a result they get a goal. If we react quicker, it's better. But then we go through a bad period in the second half where we just lost our shape, lost our concentration, lost our focus, and they bang away two goals, and we're actually a little fortunate it wasn't three or four. Overall, I thought our possession was good. I thought we out-possessed them. We held onto the ball, we got some things going forward, but at the end of the day Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan were very dynamic and were a lot more dynamic than maybe our team was up front on the day. Obviously they created a lot of good chances."
How did the first goal change the halftime talk?: "It didn't change the team talk because as I said to the team at halftime, '1-0 is OK. It's not the worst thing in the world. 1-0 is OK as long as we keep it that way.' For some reason, again, we feel like, 'No, we had to make it 1-1,' or something, and early in the second half I thought we did a few things. We got close a couple of times where we were just on the verge of breaking through. Maybe the final pass wasn't of enough quality. We got exposed. It came from a cross from their right wing. The second goal came from a ball played in behind us on the right wing, as well. Obviously that's the side where they found a lot of joy."
How do you approach the second leg?: "The approach is we have to understand that we have to score three goals in 90 minutes. We don't have to score three goals in five minutes. We don't have to score three goals in 15. For sure we don't have to go hog wild in scoring goals and giving up goals, because then we just have to score more goals. It's important that we come out with a good mentality, a good work rate, a good effort on our part, but also a good plan and also the patience and the desire at the key moments."
How important will the fans be?: "We'll need them completely. We need them behind us. They were behind us last year and we almost came through with it. This is the year we've got to complete the job we didn't complete last year, so we need our fans and we need their support. Certainly they helped drive us. The fans that were here tonight were fantastic and we're disappointed that we disappointed them."
Did fatigue play a part?: "I think the teams were equally fatigued to a certain extent. It's a little tougher having to travel and having the one day less in the turnaround, because it's, 'How many days ago did you play?' At the end of the day, it was the quality, I think, of their two strikers. You have to take your hat off to them. Their quality was good. Landon Donovan was good, Keane was good, and we just didn't quite have enough."
What are you most disappointed about?: "Just disappointed that we didn't keep it at 1-0. I thought we had the ability to keep it at 1-0, and we should've kept it at 1-0 and played with a better mentality at that stage, but at the end of the day, guys on the field were trying to do things. We were still possessing the ball, we were still getting good looks going forward, and we got caught on the counter. It's typical. That's the way Bruce likes to play. That's the way LA plays, they'll sit back and they'll counter attack. When you've got the speed of Landon and the speed of Keane and the creativity that they possess, they're a team that's very dangerous on the counter."
On LA's offense: "I think the movement for sure was good for them, but I think more so than anything it was us giving the ball away at midfield, which put us under duress. Guys getting caught in advanced positions as the ball turned over, and therefore they had space to counter into. The thing is, guys like Landon and Keane and Beckham, they cheat sometimes on defense, and if you turn the ball over badly and they're in good positions on the other end, they have the quality to make you pay."
How much was Burch missed? And what was your assessment of Scott?: "Obviously Marc has played very well for us, so we were disappointed for him not to be able to play today. Him and Leo have been our two left backs for the majority of the season. Zach's played more on the right and he's played more in the middle, so for him it was a tough situation to step into, and he hadn't played that much over the last three weeks, so it was difficult for him. But certainly Marc has been playing well and we missed him."
What'd you think of the suspension?: "It is what it is. Obviously it was consistent with what happened with Colin Clark, even though there was no audio of it. I'm proud of the fact that Marc felt his obligation as human being, not necessarily as a soccer player for the Sounders, to acknowledge that he had made a mistake. If you know his family history, you know it's something that's not in his character to do. It is what it is."
On the lineup decisions: "What we wanted to do was congest the midfield a little bit and make it a little more difficult to possess the ball. I think when you look at the stats and you look at our possession and you look at the first half, I thought we did a good job. It went exactly what I wanted to do. We were one minute away from having it go the way we wanted it to go. We didn't think Eddie was able to go 90 minutes, so we wanted to bring him off the bench in the second half when they were a little tired, and make sure that he could go 90 minutes next week, because he's making progress. It's tough with the amount of time he played in Salt Lake for that turnaround, for him, but I thought the plan was good and I thought in the first half, like I said, we were a minute away from having it go the way we wanted it to go."
On Fredy Montero's long playoff drought: "Obviously there are streaks and goal scorers are streaky. It's been over four years now and he hasn't found the goal in the playoffs. He's working hard. He's trying to get the ball. He's trying to get some looks, certainly, but teams focus a little bit harder in the playoffs and it's been harder for him to find space."
Is it a mental thing with him, you think?: "Hopefully not. He's pretty good that way, but I'm sure at some point you start thinking about it, yeah."
Is that why you took Fredy off?: "No, we wanted him to push as hard he could for 60-65, and then we were going to make a decision on how we were going to make changes. At the time when I was going to make the sub, which was right before their second goal, we felt that the rest of it was going all right. If we get a little fresh legs up high, we could possibly jump on some things. Eddie's more through runner than a ball-at-the feet-guy, than Fredy is, and we thought the rest of it working all right at this point and then they scored the second."
Do you take solace if how you played against RSL in the second leg?: "We also take solace in the fact that we beat LA earlier in the year 4-0 at our place. We know we have to come out with the same sort of effort that we came out with the last time we played at home last year. We have to come out with a better result."
Do you think the first goal changed the complexion of the game?: "I think we possibly pushed a little bit when we shouldn't have pushed to try and get the goal back, because getting the goal back wasn't important. 1-0 was fine ... Obviously they've got some veteran guys. You add up the three players I mentioned, they've got more caps times 20 than my whole team does -- maybe times 100. From that standpoint, they're a little more cagey. They're a little more, 'OK, this is what I need to do today.' For some reason, maybe we didn't quite recognize that, but I think the goal at the end of the half certainly changed the complexion a little bit, and it's over now."
What did you learn in the RSL series last year you can use this year?: "Obviously we didn't learn much because we did the same thing this year. We talked about it. We talked at halftime. We said, '1-0 is OK. If we walk way 1-0, we're all right.' I really tried to emphasize that at halftime. Then at the end of the day, we didn't. Now we have to come back and we have to play with same attitude and same conviction that we played with last year in Game 2, but we've got to score more goals."
Are you getting enough out of your DPs?: "There's DPs and DPs. I'm talking not so much about their DPs, I'm talking more about the experience level. You're talking about guys who have 100 caps, each of them. You're about guys who have played in World Cups. You're talking about guys who've played in European Champions League games and things like that. There's a quality that they've been able to express onto the team. For us right now, we're still searching maybe a little bit for that. I don't think we're that far away. I don't think they're three goals better than us. I thought tonight they were good and tonight they were very good on the counter and they were very good offensively and tonight they were three goals better than us, so my hat's off to them on that regard. But on a general basis, I don't think they're three-goals better."
Does this team need to spend more to get players like that?: "No comment."
How is the team going to come back from this?: "Everyone just has to take a look at themselves in the mirror and ask, 'Did I do enough tonight?' There are a million other teams that are out of the playoff right now that would love to be in our position, and we beat one of the best teams away at their place with hard work and commitment and dedications, and we didn't see that tonight -- point blank. Myself, whoever is out there: You have to look at yourself in the mirror. We all talk about leaving a legacy when you're done, and you want to be remembered. This is the defining moment for this organization, for this team and for us individuals, because the coach talked about it: You might get not get this opportunity again. I'm at a loss for words right now."
On how he is doing physically: "Physically, I am doing fine. It is just one of those things were I picked up a nick the last time I was down here and played 90 minutes (Thursday), and the turnaround was too quick. They didn't want to put me out there at the start and maybe set myself back, but from a physical standpoint I felt good. Physically, I felt fine. Fitness, I felt fine."
On the approach going into the next game: "We know it is a must-win game now. Any time we give up good chances to a team like this they are going to punish you. We should have gotten something out of the first half. That was the first time I've seen LA not play their best soccer, but good teams always find a way to get a goal. They managed to get a goal before half and goals change games. They had the momentum coming into the second half and they used it to their advantage. This team always responds well during adversity; we have responded well this season. We know it is going to be a good crowd next Sunday, we are going to have our fans behind us, and we are a good team at home. We know it's not going to be easy, going down 3-0 to the defending champions -- it's tough, but it's not impossible. We played them this year at our place and managed to score four goals. But this is the playoffs, it's different. We got to go back and watch film and go over some things and come out with a better mentality next week."
On his role tonight: "It's a team sport. You know, if I am out there, or whoever is out there, it's the playoffs -- it doesn't matter who is out there. Whoever is out there has to do a job. If your jersey is called upon, it means the coach has trust in you, and believes in you. At the end of the day it takes 11 players to be successful on the field. My role was a different role this game, and I am looking forward to the game next week."
What happened?: "We got outplayed, from front to back. A better LA Galaxy team tonight. We just didn't do enough. We didn't have answers for the, the only good thing is it's halftime. We go back to our place, but they were more creative, better runs off the ball. We didn't have answers for them tonight."
Seemed like you had early success on Robbie Keane before things changed: "We were tight on him. We were able to put pressure on him ... It seemed like they had tons of time right at the top of the box, and they could just tear right through us. It wasn't easy. We didn't do the job tonight."
What's the most disappointing part about tonight's performance?: "We're down three now. We're in the same position we were in last year. There was a lot of joy and happiness in the locker room, but now it's head down. It's a week now that we have to prepare for the games. We have to forget about this game. Our season is on the line now. We have to do our job. We have to go back there and get three goals just to push it into extra time, but I have faith in the team and the group that we can get our (stuff) together and get things right and make it harder for them and play a full game this time instead of 45 minutes."
Did the game change after the first goal?: "Not really. No. We knew it was just a goal, and if we could keep 'em out of the back of the net in the second half, then it's fine going back to our place down one. We believe in each other and we can score a lot of goals in our place. It wasn't anything where we said we had to go out and sit a little bit more and bunker in or to go out and attack. No, there wasn't any different change, but the second half was a totally different game."
Did things get stretched in the second half?: "Yeah, it seemed like that. They just had more energy. You could see the momentum shift and we didn't have answers for it tonight. That's from all of us."
You guys up for the huge performance you're going to need?: "We've put four up on 'em before, so it's nothing we haven't done, but we definitely have to be on our team and late better than we were tonight. It's frustrating, it's disappointing, but we have to forget about it and move on."
Did you ever think about last year's RSL game when it was happening?: "No, I didn't. I didn't even think about that. Once the second one went in, then I was frustrated, but then the third one ... There could've been a lot more. We didn't create enough chances and they created a lot."
On the first goal right at the end of the half: "All three goals were a difficult moment for us. The first one, you know, everything worked out good for us in the first half, if we go as a draw into halftime the game is different. And then they got the second one, and five minutes later the third one. That is tough to work with. We can look forward to next week. We have 90 minutes left, so we will see."
On organizing a back line against the type of players on the Galaxy: "We did well. If the first goal doesn't happen, things would be different. It was very unlucky that we conceded the goal so quick before halftime. It changed the game, and after the second goal you get the third one five minutes later. This is unacceptable. I am sure we don't deserve this result today, but we have this result now and there is just one direction we can play now, and that is forward, so let's look forward to what's happening next week."
On heavy legs possibly playing a factor in this game: "No, we don't want to use any excuses. Everybody was prepared for this game, 100 percent. LA had a couple of games also, so there are no excuses at this time of year."
On how hard it was to get a good look on goal tonight: "We came in with a mentality to try and keep the ball and try to play high. The defender was playing behind me a little bit. I thought we were doing a really good job until they scored the first goal."
On not playing with Eddie Johnson: "It is always good to play with him. He always tries to move forward. When I move, I leave space for him, and when he moves, he leaves space for me, so it is always good. We were doing what the coach wanted and unfortunately we couldn't hold the ball or score."
On getting back to the success against the Galaxy from the regular season: "Well, we have memory and we need to remind ourselves that we beat them 4-0 at home and we need to take what we did good and do it again. We need to find motivation in those games. We are going to play for the final in the conference, so we need to be five percent more than we are doing right now. Every single game I try to do as much as I can, but at the end of the day soccer is played in the midfield. We need to keep moving forward. We need to find a way to have a good result next game. We are not happy with this, but at the same time we need get over this and move forward and be focused on what we need to do for the next game."
What happened tonight?: "I don't know exactly what happened out there, but we couldn't find a way to score goals. At the same time, I think they are a really good team and they scored in the opportunities they had. I think that was the difference between the teams."
How will you be able to come back?: "We have to remind what we did good the first time we played against them, and we scored four goals, and try to do the same. More energy. The motivation is going to be there. We want to continue and get to the final. If we want to get there, we need to give five percent more than always."
What was the most disappointing part?: "I think the first goal at the end of the first half. We were doing really good, holding the ball and defending good, and unfortunately that opportunity was the only one they had in the entire first half, and they scored."
How's this feeling compare to last year at RSL?: "It's kind of the same. But, like I said before, what we did doesn't matter. We need to be focused on what we're going to do more the next game at home. We need to remind ourselves we beat that team 4-0, and we need to do the same. It's something that is very difficult, but it's not impossible to do."
On coming out in the second half: "Well, that's the coach's decision. I tried to do the best by myself in the front, hold the ball and try to get some touches. We were doing good until they scored the first goal."
When did you find out you were starting and what were your thoughts coming in?: "I found out yesterday. I just knew I had to come out and do whatever the team needed in this important first part of the series away."
What was the most disappointing part about tonight?: "Going into half 1-0 wasn't terrible. They got somewhat of a lucky goal toward the end of the half. That wasn't the most disappointing, but then we lost our shape a little bit in the second half and gave up a couple quick goals. We're just going to have to focus on that fact that series is half over and we have to redeem ourselves when we get back to Seattle."
What did Schmid say to the team afterward?: "Just that. There's no point at looking back at this point. We just have to look forward because we know what we have to do in Seattle."
Los Angeles Galaxy
Bruce Arena - Head Coach
Overall thoughts on the game: "We played very well tonight against an excellent team, and we're not foolish enough to believe that this thing is over. The game in Seattle on Sunday is going to be a real difficult game and we have to have our team ready to play."
On the performance of key players: "Christian played very well tonight. I think the combination play with him and Beckham and Donovan and Keane and Magee was excellent. They had a good night and they were dangerous. Obviously the goal at the end of the half was certainly huge and made a big difference. Seattle pressed to get a goal, open things up and gave some talented players a little bit of room to help us get the second and third goals."
On the form of Robbie Keane: "I've said it a number of times: I think he's been simply outstanding since his return from the European Championships. One could argue he's been the best player in the league, unbelievably important to our team. He's been healthy and in just about every game. I would think since he's returned he's simply been outstanding. What can I say? He's been great."
On his team's depth: "It's been a progression over the season. I think it's well documented that we didn't start the season well but we started seeing progress end of May, June. Our young players have really improved. We think we have a lot of good depth and a lot of positions. In the Champions League we were able to use our second group in most of the games and ended up winning the group, so it's a tribute to the way they've developed and the kind of group we have."
On the full week ahead of rest ahead of the second leg: "It will be good. I think this is a difficult schedule for all the teams. I think it was challenging for DC United going down in Houston. I think Seattle would probably say the same. We've had, obviously, to play in games. So it's been a lot of games in a short period of time and we've been fortunate enough to be able to survive to this point."
Thoughts on what the veterans bring to the team: "I think if Keane, Beckham and Donovan, for example, are right, and even Omar in the case of Tommy Meyer, they're outstanding role models for those guys, and examples. When they're focused and their minds are right, they're great examples for any of our young players to look at and learn from and help them develop. I would say they're vitally important to the development of our young players."
On the team's performance in the victory: "It was a good start. I think if we're critical at all, we probably should have gotten a fourth goal. When you have a team down, you have to bury them. That being said, if you would have told us at the start of the night, 'Do you want 3-0 at the end?', we would have taken it. But this is far from over. I, myself, have been part of bigger comebacks than this so we've got a long way to go still."
On the injury that forced him out of the game: "I felt my hamstring tighten up a little bit, so we'll see, go in tomorrow and look at it."
On next Sunday's second leg in Seattle: "Next week they'll have Eddie from the start, my guess is they'll have Rosales from the start and they're a much different team at home than they are on the road. They beat us 4-0 earlier in the year and there's no reason why they can't do that again, so we've got to be prepared."
On Robbie Keane's goal just before halftime: "That was huge. We didn't play all too well in the first half, created a couple chances but we weren't all that dangerous, so to break through right before [halftime] I think broke their back a little bit, and then our second half was terrific."
On the goal scoring of Keane and Mike Magee: "Big players step up in big games and we have a number of those, and we need those two to keep going. As they go, so goes our team."
On having a week off between games: "It's going to be a little weird not to play in three days. We're going to take a couple of days off to rest, we need it. But then it's back to work because we've got a big one Sunday."
On the importance of the goal right before halftime: "It was important that we kept our patience and that certainly was the case. We knew that was going to be difficult, they were going to defend well and they did that. I think the goal just before halftime was a big boost for us and obviously killed them a little."
On the win and next week's second leg: "We can't obviously get too carried away with ourselves. We got a good win tonight, but the job's only half done. So if the lads think for one second now this is over, they may think again, because as we know in football, it's a funny old game and anything can happen. We'll enjoy tonight, enjoy the win, but as soon as we're back on the training pitch, the focus is on next Sunday."
On the mindset ahead of the second leg: "I think it's up to the lads, the senior players who have a lot more experience than the other guys to make sure that they know that this is by no means over."
On tapping home the third goal which Christian Wilhelmsson had sent toward the goal line: "My coaches when I was a kid always said just make sure the ball hits the back of the net. I wasn't too sure who was around me, so I was just making sure, because he cleared a few off the line tonight, so I wasn't taking any chances. It doesn't really matter who scored as long as we win the game."
On the key to the team's combination play: "Landon and Robbie. Landon and Robbie were phenomenal. And any time they play together they are so dangerous. It makes it so much easier when every ball they try to lump forward, and every cross they hit, it gets eaten by our defense and our goalie, it makes it so much easier when they are not possessing it in our defensive third."
On if the team can sit back with a 3-0 lead: "We can't sit back. This is a team that if we go there and we think 3-0 is going to be good enough I think we will be proven that it won't be good enough."
On what he saw on his goal: "As soon as I saw Robbie pick his head up I knew he was going to play Sean in behind. I took off early. I knew with Sean's speed that if I just took off and got there then I'd have a tap-in, which is what happened. The weight of the ball Sean put on it was everything. You see a lot of guys when they get in that position they try to blast it across or sometimes they're over thinking it and they play a little bumpy ball; he gave me a lay-up."
On the win and looking forward to next week's match in Seattle: "We always create chances, so it was great that we put them away, but this tie is far from over. Seattle's always been a tough place to go and win games and play at. Their fans will be right behind them, but we have obviously put ourselves in a good position. But we know that it's far from over."
On what kind of approach they need to take into the second leg: "The same approach that we took for this game. We're not going to sit on the lead that we have. It's important that we still play our soccer and play it like we can. But obviously, we're in a very good position. We don't want to concede too quickly in the game, hopefully not at all. It's going to be a tough one."
On whether they felt the game opening up in the second half: "I think that always happens when you're chasing the game and you're down a goal or two. The game opens up, the other team has to take a few more chances and luckily for us it opened up. We could have had one or two more than we actually got, but we'd have taken 3-0 at the start of the game."
On having a week off between games: "It's great. We've played about 50 games in the last two weeks, that's how it feels. It's nice obviously to get a week in between each game because you can recover from any little niggles or injuries that you've picked up in these latest games. But sometimes you want it to come a bit quicker."