2010 Nov 7

Sounders knocked out of playoffs with a loss at Los Angeles Galaxy

Los Angeles Galaxy  2 - 1  Seattle Sounders FC

Home Depot Center, Carson, CA

39' LA: Edson Buddle (David Beckham)
27' LA: Omar Gonzalez (David Beckham)
86' SEA: Steve Zakuani (Nate Jaqua)

Los Angeles: Donovan Ricketts; Eddie Lewis, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin; Landon Donovan, Dema Kovalenko (Chris Birchall 74'), Juninho, David Beckham; Edson Buddle (Tristan Bowen 71'), Mike Magee (Todd Dunivant 80'). Substitutes not used: Josh Saunders, Gregg Berhalter, Alex Cazumba, Jovan Kirovski.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Tyrone Marshall, Patrick Ianni (Nate Jaqua 77'), James Riley; Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis (Michael Fucito 64'), Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 46'); Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Tyson Wahl, Taylor Graham, Roger Levesque.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Los Angeles Galaxy won the match 2-1 after scoring two early goals from set plays, Edson Buddle with the first goal and Omar Gonzalez with the second. Steve Zakuani scored late for Seattle, who lost the series 3-1 on aggregate. The Galaxy advance to face FC Dallas in the second round.

Los Angeles dominated the first half hour, earning two goals. The first corner kick at 6' gave LA a shot, headed by Juninho on goal but right at Kasey Keller's head, where he caught it. Mike Magee managed to get a shot on goal at 12' from a long diagonal cross, but it went right to Keller.

19' LA: Buddle (Beckham). David Beckham's corner kick dipped down over several airborn players who couldn't quite reach it. Buddle beat Tyrone Marshall to the ball near the 6-yard line and headed it in. 1-0 LA.

27' LA: Gonzalez (Beckham). Beckham served a long free kick to the near side, and Omar Gonzalez ran by Seattle defenders and was wide open for a flying header into the wide open near side of the goal. 2-0 LA.

Seattle's first shot on goal came at 32' from Osvaldo Alonso, whose 20-yard shot was a rocket, but aimed right at goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who punched it right back and out of the penalty area. Sanna Nyassi shot up the middle from a distance to force Ricketts' second save.

The final chance of the half was Beckham's 25-yard free kick up the middle, bent just wide of the right post.

Seattle brought on Alvaro Fernandez in place of Nyassi to open the second half. In a four-minute span near the one hour mark, Fredy Montero took four shots. At 57' he was put in close to goal for a great chance but he shanked the shot. His second try was from 25 yards and he skied it. Fernandez' shot gave Montero another close-in shot, but he volleyed it right at Ricketts' belly. The fourth try was from a steep angle on the right and Montero hit the netting on the wrong side of the near post.

At 67' a strong Seattle attack gave Zakuani the ball in front of goal off a deflection, and he shot right at Ricketts' chest. At 72' Montero took a better shot than earlier, getting a chance deep in the penalty area and bending it just wide of the far post.

Landon Donovan had his chance at 83' when he was served nicely by Beckham on a run up the middle and shot just over the bar.

86' SEA: Zakuani (Jaqua). A good series of passes ended with substitute Nate Jaqua serving a short pass ahead into the penalty area for Zakuani, who shot over Ricketts' head. Ricketts got his hands on the ball but could not keep the ball from finding net. 2-1 LA.

Seattle had two chances near the end. At 90' Fernandez' corner kick was headed to the right post by Marshall, where Jaqua's sliding stab sent the ball just wide of the post. In added time, Alonso was served open on a run up the middle and shot just wide of the post from the 18 with open goal available.

Los Angeles will host FC Dallas in the next round of the playoffs, while the Sounders are done for the season.

           LA    SEA
Shots:     10     14
Saves:      4      2
Corners:    5      5
Fouls:     12     13
Offsides:   3      0

8' LA: Beckham cautioned for a cleats-first slide into Montero's ankle
65' SEA: Ianni cautioned for holding Buddle

Referees: Baldomero Toledo; C.J. Morgante, Craig Lowry; Kevin Stott

Attendance: 27,000

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "Basically we started off the game poorly, put ourselves behind the eight ball. They scored two set-pieces. I think we showed some character in the second half, created enough chances, but creating chances alone doesn't do anything. You got to score goals."

On L.A.'s defensive approach against you: "I think we did more things to ourselves in the first half. They really came out with the same structure. For a couple guys on our team the game was too big for them, it was too big an occasion. They just turned over the ball and turned over the ball in bad positions, bad spots."

You mention the occasion being too big for some, is it a matter of experience or talent?: "A little bit of experience. Obviously you got to look at it when you're playing a 23-year-old midfielder and he's going against a 32-year-old. You got Beckham who's been in a lot of big games. We got a lot of guys who haven't been in those big games yet. The only way you get that experience is by being in it."

On defending set pieces, regarding Beckham: "Well Beckham's very clever. He's actually too clever for the referees as well. He hits a great set piece and he was having a lot of joy in the first half early on hitting out-swinging set pieces, which obviously they watch tape and he was hitting them very well. On the one that they scored the first goal -- on the first corner -- the ball goes out on the other side of the field. The corner is supposed to be taken on that side of the field. Toledo, who's the referee, has to make sure it happens there. Beckham just picks up the ball and walks to the other side of the field. He's too clever for our own referees. Our referees needs to be more clever because the players are more clever than they are."

Looking at Year 2: "We still have to grow up a little bit. What we've done as a franchise, we've been in five competitions in two years and we've won two championships. I think that's pretty good. The Galaxy is still looking for the first championship in these two seasons. Whether you attach importance to the Open Cup or not, it's still a competition that you're trying to win. For us though it's a matter of maturing, growing up into (being able to play) those big games, understanding each other. We're still building the team. There are new guys out there. We lost a lot of guys in injuries down the middle of the field, so there's some guys who if you told me at the start of the season would be in our starting lineup, I'd say it'd be a more difficult year."

On what you learned about your team in trying to become elite in MLS: "We're still not there yet. We have still have to become better. We can't give up goals on set pieces like that. We can't start to play 20 minutes into the game. We got to play sooner."

On substitutions: "We made the changes that I felt comfortable with. We brought in Fernandez first to give us a little bit more possession with the ball. On the wings we went into a 3-5-2 pretty early when we brought in Fucito -- he's shown very well in training. Then we came with Jaqua late and stayed in a 3-5-2. I thought when you look at the chances we had in the second half, there were four goals there for us: the one Jaqua just misses, the one Alonso has, the one Montero has, Zakuani has one earlier before he scores, Blaise has one that hits him on the thigh at the back post when he was just coming down to hit it. So there were enough chances to bang away goals. To get three was not impossible."

Thinking about next year: "We're after the match so we're before the next match. Our next match is next season. So for me it's already a process of deciding, 'OK these are the nucleus pieces we can build with and this is where we need to get a little bit better.'"

On set-piece defense and missed chances being familiar from early in the season: "I don't know if it reminded me of early on in the season, but it was extremely frustrating. I thought our marking was poor. Even though Beckham took the corner from the wrong side, that doesn't excuse our marking. Our marking on those two goals was poor. And Gonzalez should've had one earlier. Our ability to adjust, we were playing defense on corners a certain way and zoning. Beckham is a good enough server of the ball that he can put the ball over Nkufo's head -- he's the guy we were zoning in that one space, which worked very well for us in the first game. Now he maybe needed to drop a step or two. We were trying to get that message out and that's why I was so irate after that first goal because from the other side I don't think they score, to be very honest."

Thoughts on the Galaxy: "I think they're a little more grizzled, I guess is the word. There's an edge to their team. There's a physicality to their team and there's certainly a purpose for a lot of their players. A lot of their players are very committed to, 'this is the year.' You got guys who are retiring, like an Eddie Lewis. And you have guys that are disappointed in not winning the championship. Guys coming back from injury, like a Beckham. Kovalenko probably knows that this could be his last season in a certain extent. With those guys, everybody knows their role, everybody does their role. How they'll do against Dallas? I think they should do fairly well, especially being at home. Dallas presents different problems than we present. Every team is a little different."

On trying to improve or building a team that can beat L.A.: "There's still nobody that we fear. It's a matter of making us a better team. We just have to become better. We have to become more experienced. We have to become hardened. We have to play with a discipline and a craftiness that L.A. has right now that we don't have. Whether that's taking 20 seconds to take a goal kick or a throw-in. Little things to kill the game. Ricketts knew when he got crashed into by Fernandez that he wasn't taking any goal kicks, but every time he walked over, put the ball down, pretended like he was going to and then, 'oh by the way, you have to come back here and kick it.' Again, the referees aren't smart enough to pick that up. So when you have a veteran team that's crafty then they get away with that stuff. It's 10 seconds here, 20 seconds there, but more so than anything it just kills the momentum of the game. So we're trying to up the momentum of the game, we're trying to keep the game going, trying to keep the flow going and unless you yellow card him he's going to continue to kill the rhythm. So they're a team that understands that rhythm because they've got a lot of veteran players and those are intangibles that make a difference in big games. Those are things we're trying to impart."

You trying to make your team crafty like that for next season?: "I don't know if we have that kind of money. A lot of it is, Kovalenko was a different player at 23 then he is now at 32 -- in terms of certain things and understanding and reading the game. Some of it is just age. Maturity. It's like if you have kids at home and they do stupid things when they're 13, you can't say, 'Well I'm going to go trade them in.' You don't get another kid. You have to help your kid mature and eventually when they're 16, 17, 18, hopefully they're making better decisions. So it's a little bit of that for us. We have to mature as a team and that will allow us to make better decisions."

Kasey Keller

On tonight's game: "Obviously we didn't mark well on set pieces and we paid the price for it. We put ourselves in a big hole. I was proud of the way the guys responded in the second half. We didn't roll over and die. We made it very difficult. We had chances to really put them in a difficult situation but in the end over the two legs the better team won and we know what we have to do next year."

Steve Zakuani

On tonight's game: "First of all congratulations to LA. Over the two legs it was the better team that took the chances. I felt we put ourselves in a hole giving away two goals early on coming in already trailing 1-0 so it was going to be tough. We did the best we could. It wasn't good enough this year. We have to go away and live to fight another day next year."

On the team's performance: "We gave up two bad goals. You can't do that against a team like LA. They have some world class service from David Beckham. Edson finished the first one well and Omar made the second one but like I said we put ourselves in a hole. We didn't play too bad. We had a lot of chances. We could have scored three or four towards the end but we missed them. In this kind of game at this stage of the playoffs it is about taking your chances. Over the two legs they did better than we did."

Tyrone Marshall

On tonight's game: "It was one of those games. We gave up two goals early in the first half off set plays and it put us behind the eight ball quick. I think we got into a good rhythm in terms of getting the ball wide and getting them in. Give it to LA for putting the pressure on us. In the second half I thought we came out with some more urgency. We got the goal but it was too late. We had some chances earlier but obviously we were in such a deep hole, it was like climbing a mountain. I thought in the second half we showed good character, we fought till the end but it was unfortunate we came up short. Looking back it was a good season. We made some good strides in terms of our playing and our personnel. We just have to come back ready again. Bring it again next year and perhaps go a bit further."

Fredy Montero

On Zakuani's goal: "It was too late. We could have had the tying goal, we had the chances. In the second half I think it was more about passing, dribbling and taking chances which led to the scoring opportunities, but that's how it is. The goalkeeper had another great game and unfortunately we couldn't advance."

On Seattle's season: "I am never happy with what I do. I always want to do better. But it wasn't an easy year for us. We know that the first half of the season was difficult, we weren't playing well, we weren't scoring and we weren't in a playoff spot. In the second half of the season we made a come back. We got our act together and we qualified for the playoffs. We are happy with what we achieved but once again we fall short. We have to learn from this so we don't repeat it again next year."

Los Angeles

Bruce Arena - Head Coach

On tonight's win: "It's obviously a very good win for our team. I thought we played very well in the first half. The second half, we were a little bit sloppy in the last 20 minutes. If we had been a little smarter, a little sharper, perhaps we would have gotten that third goal and really killed the game. Give Seattle credit, they never quit. They came at us right until the end. It was a tough battle for 95 minutes."

On tonight's performance compared to others this season: "We played well in the first half. Whether it is the best we have played all season, I'm not sure. In a game of this magnitude, this time of the year, I am pleased with it. Whether it is the best we have played, I don't know, but it was certainly good enough to carry us through the second half, and push us through in the series."

On the injury to Donovan Ricketts: "No, but obviously, [Fernandez] went in with him and you could see he got cleated. We were hopeful that it was only a bruise and not a ligament or anything and that is what it turned out to be. But it took him five or ten minutes to shake it off."

On the defensive performance: "They played well for 70 minutes. I think we got a little tired and Seattle started throwing everyone forward. We didn't do a good enough job getting to the ball. We gave it away at times, a little bit too early. All in all, I think they played well. I think this Montero is a terrific player and to be able to hold him in two games is pretty impressive. They have a good team, and we played well. We are going to need more of that next week against Dallas."

On starting Eddie Lewis over Todd Dunivant: "Eddie played well last week. He is pretty rested. Todd didn't get into practice until Thursday, so we felt Eddie was a little fitter, and a little bit more prepared to play in this game."

On David Beckham's set pieces: "Terrific. The second one in particular, that Omar scored on, was a great goal. David is getting back in form. He had a tough week recovering from the field in Seattle. He started to come around on Friday. I thought he put in a good effort tonight. His reputation on set pieces is well-known, well-respected, and well-earned. Tonight, it was the difference in the game."

On the defensive effort to keep the ball from Seattle's wingers: "It is having a collection of players behind the ball and being in good blocks. Also, having a good understanding of where their strength is, and their strength is certainly in Zakuani and Montero, but at times, Nkufo did a decent job of coming in underneath and getting them possession and letting them advance the ball. There wasn't that particular tactic as much as we had to have a good combined effort in defending which we have gotten in this series, and I think that is the way we were able to neutralize Seattle's attack."

Landon Donovan

On the team's defensive performance: "It's the playoffs. That's what it takes. We have guys with a lot of experience in how to play in games like this. Talk about the defense all you want, but we still scored two goals and had some chance to score more."

On the wing play of the Sounders: "I watched a lot of their games at the end of the year, and that was certainly their strength. Zakuani and Nyassi were playing very well, so we knew if we took that part of their game away, we would beat them. They didn't do as well as they had in previous games and I would attribute that to how well we played."

On the team's desire to defeat the Sounders: "We heard for a week before we played them how happy they were to play us in this series, and my guess is that they probably have some different feelings now."

On the injury to Donovan Ricketts: "We have seen him go down before. Like all goalies, he puts his body on the line. He is tough and when all is said and done, he is a tough guy, but also we are ok with it because we have got a guy behind him (Josh Saunders) who could start on most teams in this league."

On the two goals: "Great finishes. Fantastic service from David. This is the best David has played since he has been a Galaxy player. He is inspiring everyone with the way he is running, the way he is defending, with the way he is talking on the field and leading. He has been fantastic."

Edson Buddle

On the fans chanting MVP: "It feels good. At the end of the day the league makes the decision, but it's good that the fans recognize the way I've been playing."

On his first goal: "I think the ball just went over Omar's head and when that happened I just continued my run and got a good head on it and redirected it. In the playoffs thing are going to be tight, so I expected that (Marshall to be marking tight on the play), but I was still able to get good contact on it and that's why I found the net."

On his confidence: "This season has been going pretty well, as far as scoring goals. My team is getting me the ball in the right position and it's making my job a lot easier."

On the Galaxy's experience advantage over Seattle: "I think last year's experienced helped with this year. It feels like we've been here before and we're hungry to get back to the Final and finish the job. I can definitely feel that in the locker room."

Overall thoughts on FC Dallas: "From the last matchup we just played, not too long ago, it's going to be very physical and they have good chemistry. It's going to be tough to get opportunities, especially in a semifinal game."

Omar Gonzalez

On his goal: "Definitely. I think that I could have gotten at least the two before hand. The one Edson scored on, I was pretty close too. I was feeling pretty good, and just happy to get one."

On the set piece that set up his goal: "It was a foul outside the box, maybe about ten yards outside the box on the right side. I was just trying to get into that space behind them and I curled my run inside, instead of trying to go behind them and I just found a ton of space."

On David Beckham's free kicks: "David does wonders with the ball, so it is just great having him on this team. He really showed everyone why he is here."

On the defensive performance: "It is one of the strongest. We still gave up a goal which is kind of a bummer. I would have rather had a shutout, but you know it happens. We did well enough in the first game and tonight to be up two goals. I think we did well and we just have to keeping playing well defensively and go from there."

David Beckham

On the team's character this season: "We had a good opportunity last year. Obviously, we didn't go all the way and win the whole thing, so we are happy so far and we are performing well. I think the character is showing through. We still have two matches, obviously one more to go to get through to the final, and hopefully we can do that. We can only do that with hard work, character, and the professionalism that we have shown so far."

On his drive to succeed: "It doesn't make any difference. I am always driven to be successful, and I am always driven to win. Obviously, having the injury was a disappointment, but my drive has never been an issue. I have always wanted success. I am 35-years-old now and I still want it as much as I did when I was 18 and 19."

On his free kicks: "Obviously, it is what I have done for many years, but it is important to me to have players to put the ball on the top of their heads or on their feet. I know that if I put the ball in the right area, we have brave enough players, we have good enough players to score goals. It worked tonight. Some other games, it hasn't worked, but tonight it worked."

On regaining full fitness: "I think obviously it is my kind of preseason. I'm still trying to get fitness. It helps when I play the full 90 minutes. I'm still getting the aches and the pains of preseason. I felt physically good tonight. I think if I look after my body like I have done since I have been back, then hopefully I will continue to progress."

On recovering from playing on Seattle's turf: "It was a tough week recovering. When you play on that kind of surface, especially after the injury that I had, it is going to take time. It was a good week because I got most days in training. I think there is only one day that I missed and the rest was good. Tonight was a good night for us."

Donovan Ricketts

On the team's strong defensive performance: "We are finishing the way we started. Strong defensively. If you want to win a championship, you have to be strong defensively, so that is good."

On the possibility of leaving the game due to injury: "No, I never leave games unless something is broken, so no chance. It was painful initially, but as the game went on, it got a little bit better."

On their goal: "They needed to score. We knew they were going to come hard. Unfortunately, I let a soft goal in and it put us on our back foot for the remainder of the game, but we came through."

Todd Dunivant

On playing 10 minutes: "It felt good. Didn't feel anything. It was good to get out there and get back into the flow and running again. So, yeah, it felt great."

On the Galaxy's effort: "Superb. When you get two goals in the first half and put them on their heels like that and get a 3-0 advantage, obviously it takes a lot of the pressure off and really makes the game for you. So that was great, got us to a start and we were able to defend off of that."

On the pairing of Gonzalez and DeLaGarza: "They've done great. Every time he's been asked too, AJ has stepped in and done a good job for us and he's done it in the big games in the last little bit. They are on a good form, they won the National Championship together in Maryland and they are carrying that same success over to this."

On if that was the Galaxy's best game: "I wouldn't say that. I thought we could have finished the game a little bit better, we gave them a few too many chances when the game opened up, so I think there's still room for improvement, but when you score two goals off of set pieces like that and finish your chances that's doing things right."