2010 Oct 31

Sounders fall behind a goal in playoff opener with LA

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 1  Los Angeles Galaxy

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

38' LA: Edson Buddle (Omar Gonzalez)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke (Tyrone Marshall 65'), James Riley; Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis (Nate Jaqua 81'), Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 74'); Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Roger Levesque, Mike Fucito.

Los Angeles: Donovan Ricketts; Eddie Lewis (Gregg Berhalter 84'), Omar Gonzalez, AJ DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin; Landon Donovan, Juninho, Dema Kovalenko (Chris Birchall 70'), David Beckham; Edson Buddle (Jovan Kirovski 73'), Mike Magee. Substitutes not used: Josh Saunders, Alex Cazumba, Chris Klein, Tristan Bowen.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC opened the 2010 playoffs at home and got a disappointing result, failing to score while the Los Angeles Galaxy netted an unbelievable strike from Edson Buddle to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Man of the match had to be Los Angeles goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, with some quality saves to earn his shutout.

Seattle fans were momentarily happy when Steve Zakuani hit the back of the net just 33 seconds in after Osvaldo Alonso's 20-yard shot to the far post was parried to Zakuani, but replays showed that Zakuani was a full yard offside when Alonso shot. Assistant referee Thomas Supple had his flag up for good reason.

The next half hour saw most of the chances come from set plays. An early free kick for Los Angeles went from David Beckham to the far post for Buddle, who headed it wide and out. At 7' Beckham shot from a free kick from the left edge of the penalty area, and Kasey Keller palmed it over the bar.

At 9' it was Seattle's turn with a free kick, and Nathan Sturgis bounced it a yard wide, probably hoping that someone would get there to redirect it. At 19' Sturgis sent a free kick to Jeff Parke at the spot for a header that went a yard wide of the lower far corner. Two minutes later Sturgis bounced another free kick to Ricketts, again looking for a redirect that did not materialize.

Midway in the first half Seattle came closest to scoring with a series that started when Fredy Montero won space for a 25-yard shot that was well saved at the lower near corner. The resulting corner kick was headed to Montero for a shot close in. Ricketts made his best save, popping the shot over the bar and onto the roof.

On 30 minutes, a 35-yard try up the middle by Landon Donovan had to be parried over the bar by Keller.

At 36' a nice series of passes in the top of the box by Seattle gave Blaise Nkufo a quick shot at the top corner that was well saved.

38' LA: Buddle (Gonzalez). The goal came suddenly when Omar Gonzalez sent a long ball forward to Buddle. He turned, and when the ball bounced high he volleyed a shot that caught Keller too close to the near post. The shot went inside the far post before Keller could get across. 1-0 Los Angeles.

Seattle soon had a good try at a tying goal when Sturgis' 25-yard free kick almost beat Ricketts at the lower near corner.

Seattle just didn't bring enough in the second half. An early chance was there when Osvaldo Alonso's long free kick was kept alive in the top of the box, giving Zakuani a quick shot from the D that missed wide. At 57' Nkufo had a good chance from the 18 but sent it yards high. They would not get another shot until past 80'.

Los Angeles had few shots, but didn't need them as much with the goal on the scoreboard. At 58' Mike Magee headed a long free kick at the lower far corner and Keller got there. At 66' Donovan broke away and looked dangerous, but James Riley closed him down and prevented a shot. At 71' Beckham's 30-yard free kick went to Keller at the top near corner.

Seattle sent on another striker, Nate Jaqua, for center mid Sturgis at 81'. Jaqua had his first chance at 83' with a header from Nkufo's nice cross but it went wide.

At 85' a Los Angeles counterattack ended with Juninho shooting from 15 yards with only Keller to beat, but he rolled it an inch wide of the far post and was left holding his head.

Seattle fans thought they would get a goal at 87' when Jaqua was sent in from the left, wide open, but his shot at the lower near corner was too weak and Ricketts easily got down to snare it.

Five minutes were added, but Seattle could not muster another scoring chance.

The two sides will finish the series on Nov 7 in LA, with total goals from the two matches determining the winner. Thirty minutes of added time will be played if they are even on goals after 90 minutes, and kicks from the mark will decide the winner if they are even after added time.

          SEA     LA
Shots:     16     10
Saves:      5      8
Corners:    8      3
Fouls:     12     16
Offsides:   4      2

48' LA: Juninho cautioned for tripping Zakuani
49' SEA: Montero cautioned for tripping Donovan
65' LA: Kovalenko cautioned for a reckless foul on Nkufo
82' LA: Kirovski cautioned for a reckless foul
90' SEA: Nkufo cautioned for interfering with a goalkeeper release

Referees: Ricardo Salazar; Thomas Supple, Peter Manikowski; Alex Prus

Attendance: 35,521

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

General comments: "We're disappointed in the result. When you weigh the whole game, I thought we created more chances than they created. You take a goal where, hats offs to Edson, but he just turns and hits the ball in the direction of the goal and it could go anywhere, but it went in. At the end of the day, right now, we're down at halftime 1-0 and have a second half to play in LA and everything is still possible for us."

On Fredy Montero: "Not really, a lot of times forwards are a bit streaky. I thought he had a couple decent looks tonight. Thought he got in good positions. Sometimes I think he's trying a little too hard a little bit and that's something we'll talk about this week. He is taking an extra touch when he needs to give it a go. That's a case of him wanting to help the team. Not him trying to hurt the team."

On LA in first half: "I thought they did a good job on Zakuani. Steve has to bring more. They pinched our midfield pretty deep. Donovan spent more in their half of the field than he has in a long time. That was their game plan and when you get a fortunate goal, that stands up and the game plan looks really good."

On referees: "No comment. The referees are the referees."

On knowing if Jeff Parke will be able to play in second leg: "Not at this stage, we'll see. He rolled his ankle, so we'll see."

On LA defensive scheme: "It's what we said to our guys. Donovan came up with a couple big saves in the first half and in the second half, I think we squandered a couple chances. The shot that Zakuani had and certainly Jaqua's chance there at the end. If we finish better or if Donovan doesn't have the game that he has we may come off this field 2 or 3-1 winners. We weren't worried at halftime going down 1-0 and were confident that we'd come back, but it wasn't meant to be."

On chances: "Encouraged that we created chances. If not creating chances, then really have to worry. I thought we created chances. I'm disappointed in our inability to finish. A couple were great saves and you take your hat off to them on those, but some that we should have finished."

On not scoring being mentally worried: "Guys don't go into the game thinking that we haven't scored a goal in so many minutes in the playoffs. It doesn't enter our mind and isn't something we talk about. It hasn't bounced our way, but that can change in the next game."

Kasey Keller

On Edson Buddle's goal: "Just one of those things that guys try one-hundred times in their career and never make it happen. And the one time he got it to go in a big game. Great goals change games and that's part of it. I thought our response in the second half was great. I was very happy with the way we played. We created good chances. We had more than enough opportunities to win the game. We got a little lucky there I think at the end. They had a good chance to maybe get a second but he pushed it wide. For the most part, I think a draw might have been fair. We feel very confident with the results we have gotten on the road that we can go down there and get through this tie. It's a long ways from being over. And that's what I'm probably happy about. If you're going to lose, this is the way to lose. You lose 1-0 on a ridiculous goal and you have all confidence to go down there and if it's 1-0 and penalties, it's 1-0 and penalties. If it's 2-1, whatever it takes we will make it happen. We will do our best to make it happen."

On Sounders FC offense: "They really pack it. They really get two big banks of four. They make it really difficult for you to play through midfield. I thought we were successful. I thought Sanna and Steve had opportunities to get the ball in the box and we had chances to score goals. No question about it. I thought the free kicks were great. We had opportunities to score goals off of free kicks as well. Sometimes you have to take what the team gives you. You can't necessarily just go out, maybe Brazil can, but few teams can dictate their style. You see what's open and you make that happen. I thought for the most part that we did very well."

Fredy Montero

On the match: "The keeper played well, had a good afternoon. We played good football but we didn't convert the opportunities."

On not scoring a goal: "I feel the team is still playing the same style. If someone outside feels that the team is playing differently, I don't think that's the case. We are still playing with the same mentality."

On getting a result in second leg: "We really have nothing to lose. We have lost the first half. Unfortunately it was played at home. So there we can revert and maybe if they play a little more offensively we can score some goals."

Steve Zakuani

On the match: "It was frustrating. For whatever reason today we didn't play the way we have been playing, which is building from the back through the midfield and getting to the forwards, who were bypassed in the midfield. The game has to be made by Sturgis and Alonso, it has to. You look at football today, the game is made through the center mid. We were skipping them a lot today. It could've been L.A.'s pressure or something like that but it was just a bad first half. It was really scrappy. We didn't get much going. What we did was on set pieces. Unfortunately their keeper made some pretty good saves. We never had our game going. In saying that, we still had a lot of chances. I think we could've walked away with two or three goals possibly. It's frustrating and we have got to get ready for next week."

On his production today: "As a team, I just don't think we played how we have been playing. What we have been doing has been very basic. We get the ball to the midfielders. We get wide. We spring the wingers and stuff. And of course, you have got to change it a bit when you are playing someone like Franklin but that's no problem for me at all. I'm still trying to do the same things I do. I think we didn't play well in the first half. They scored an unbelievable goal. You can't do anything about that but we came out in the second half and had a lot of chances ... We had some pretty good chances there and we are disappointed we didn't finish them."

Patrick Ianni

On Edson Buddle's goal: "The ball came into Edson and I tried to just bump him a little bit. The ball came in and he kind of wrapped me with his arm and kind of put it to the side of him. When he went to shoot I thought obviously Kasey would have it. But he hit a wonder strike. Similar to last year with Ching had a wonder goal, too. It was a good goal. There's nothing we can do about it now and so we go down to L.A. and play the same way that we did and I think we will have a very good chance of advancing."

On Sounders FC offense: "I think we had plenty of good chances and I think we feel very good as a group with the way we played. The substitutions came in. We had to make a substitution at the back. When he came in we were just as strong. We just have to be patient through 90 minutes down there and we will get our goal."

Los Angeles

Bruce Arena - Head Coach

On the game: "Tough game, tough conditions. This field wasn't easy to play on for either team. Pretty classic playoff game where you go on the road and defend and try to get out of here. We were playing to win. It certainly keeps the series really tight and there's everything to play for in the next game."

On the goal: "That's a turf ball. There were a lot of turf plays -- balls bouncing around, off of shins, up in the air, out of bounds. We don't want to make too many copies of this game and distribute it around."

On LA's defense: "It was good. Their top four guys are good. Nkufo, Montero, Zakuani and Nyassi are dangerous players and you have to be able to concentrate the whole time. They're a handful."

On the conditions: "We weren't quite sure what the field was going to be like. I guess they watered it down before the game so it was slick. When it's this cool, it's going to stay wet and fast the whole time. Once we got here we could see that the field was playing faster than it did (Saturday) when we were training in the pouring rain. This kind of played like the MLS final last year - a real slick surface and the field is a little bit hard. It's a tough field to play on."

On Donovan Ricketts' saves: "I remember two great saves. In succession we had to tip it over. It was off a corner kick. The ball kind of squirted loose and Montero got away from DeLaGarza so Ricketts had to tip it over. But it was the save before that was big. A couple of the others were a little bit more routine. He had to stretch out on Sturgis' free kick. But he did good."

David Beckham

On the match: "I thought it was a professional performance by us. We set our lineup early and we played some good football on the night. Our togetherness is what won the game and put us in a good position. We're happy with tonight and now we have to go do a job at home."

On the field: "We kind of knew it was going to be like that because we trained on it yesterday. We just had to do the job that we worked on all week because we knew they had fast players and that they'd get chances, but we also knew that if we passed the ball around well and played our game, then we'd do well."

On his Achilles: "It's very sore, I'm not going to lie. It felt sore in the first half and it was just a case of getting through it. I've got a good week now to relax and get it back to what it should be."

On how the atmosphere in Seattle compares with Europe: "For the MLS, it's like playing in front of a European crowd. The noise, the atmosphere, the excitement ... and it's great to play in. It's always great to play in front of a crowd like that."

On the goal: "Tonight and also next weekend, it's going to take something like that to win this game because we're two good teams with good players. It's going to take something special to win and get through these games. Tonight, that goal ... everyone is going to say did he mean it? Of course he meant it. He turned on the ball and there was no one else near him. It was good for us."

Donovan Ricketts

On the game: "All the credit to my defense. They smothered the Seattle attack and whatever I had to do, I did, to keep my team in the game. Sometimes I have to work for my paycheck and tonight was a night I had to work for my paycheck."

On the goal: "It was a beautiful goal. I don't think I could've saved that either."

Edson Buddle

On silencing the crowd with the goal: You think about those things coming in, but you focus on team and structure first. To get a go-ahead goal, it felt good."

On the physical play: "A playoff game and you expect it to be scrappy. Both teams are trying to win. There's a lot at stake."

On the goal: "Omar got a good clearance on the ball and I saw that developing so I was able to get a turn on the ball. It bounced perfect and I took a shot. The way the ball bounced is why I shot it. I got a volley on it and it hit perfect for me. When I shoot, I hope to score. The way I wanted it to go, it went. Usually it's not the case. I got good contact and the ball dipped just the way I wanted it to."

On the field surface: "I don't like turf at all. I've always said that. I'm sure the players here would prefer grass."

Landon Donovan

On the game: "Our defense was terrific. Our back four was great. Donovan was good when he needed to be. Our midfield, I think, completely controlled the game. We knew that their strength is wide and we wanted to make sure that we did a good job of getting around those guys and I thought we did."

On Seattle targeting Eddie Lewis: "Eddie has been around awhile and knows how to play. That's the beauty of having a team that's this deep. There's not many teams that would substitute a guy like that and have a game like that - a meaningful game like that. We're confident with whoever we put in there and I thought he did a great job."

On that being the goal of the year: "Yeah, it was pretty unbelievable. That's your MVP and if you guys didn't vote for him, you should be ashamed."

On playing on the turf: "It's the same for both teams. They have an advantage because they're used to it, but it makes the game difficult. It doesn't make the game pretty, but we didn't really want a pretty game tonight so it's fine. Maybe it gave them a little advantage, but I thought we did fine with it."

On sending a message with this game: "We don't need to send a message. We've been the best team for two years plus so there's no message to send. We know that we're good and we've got to keep playing like this if we're going to get to the final."