2012 Oct 28

Late strike gives LA Galaxy the win in regular season closer

Los Angeles Galaxy  1 - 0  Seattle Sounders FC

Home Depot Center, Carson, CA

83' LA: Mike Magee (Robbie Keane)

Los Angeles: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin (Bryan Gaul 46'), Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant; Christian Wilhelmsson, Juninho, David Beckham (Marcelo Sarvas 62'), Landon Donovan; Edson Buddle (Mike Magee 75'), Robbie Keane.
Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Michael Stephens, Andrew Boyens, Jack McBean.

Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke (Zach Scott 51'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 82'), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans; Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 45').
Substitutes not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada, Mario Martinez.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

In their final match of the regular season, away at the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders FC fell short in their bid to capture second place in the MLS Western Conference. A late lone goal by Mike Magee gave Los Angeles the win. Seattle finished a point behind Real Salt Lake in the standings and two points ahead of the Galaxy.

The Sounders certainly tried to score, taking 18 shots, same as Los Angeles took.

Los Angeles got off to a clumsy start when on the first Seattle scoring opportunity goalkeeper Josh Saunders deliberately handled the ball a yard outside his penalty area to keep Fredy Montero from getting a shot. Saunders was cautioned for the tactical foul. Marc Burch took the 19-yard free kick, first hitting the wall, then having his rebound shot deflected wide. On a Mauro Rosales corner kick, Jeff Parke's header came close to the top far corner and Saunders pushed it wide to be sure.

Two minutes later Parke came up big at the other end when Los Angeles crossed to the doorstep and Parke sent it wide for a corner.

Los Angeles kept the momentum for 15 minutes as Eddie Johnson in the wall headed a 20-yard David Beckham free kick wide and Burch blocked a shot off a LA corner kick. Robbie Keane got a nice header from a Beckham cross and sent it a half yard over the bar. Beckham got a shot from a deflected ball and curled it just a foot wide.

At 24' the Rosales-Johnson crossing play was on but EJ headed it well wide. Johnson soon headed on goal from a Brad Evans cross and Saunders did well to deflect it over the bar.

Michael Gspurning's first save came at the lower corner when Edson Buddle fired from the arc after receiving a long pass from Beckham.

Just past a half hour Seattle's closest shot of the night came when Montero's driven header from Johnson's cross rebounded hard off the near post with Saunders flat footed.

Near halftime, Landon Donovan was sprung free on the left and passed up a shooting opportunity to pass to Keane, whose shot hit the outside of the net.

Disappointment came for Seattle just before halftime when Johnson pulled up lame and had to be replaced by Sammy Ochoa.

The final chance of the half saw Los Angeles combination play put Christian Wilhelmsson in on goal for a 15-yard shot that went right at Gspurning, and the big keeper held it.

Los Angeles wasted no time getting going after the break, with Keane working a give and go with Donovan for a shot with Gspurning charging out to cut down the angle. Keane's shot bent away from the far post, missing by inches.

More injury news came for Seattle at 51', as Parke had to leave, replaced by Zach Scott.

At 53' Keane froze Gspurning with a shot aimed at the top far corner, and Gspurning could only watch it hit the bar, after which Adam Johansson cleaned up the leftovers.

Just before an hour Montero came close again, shooting from 6 yards after a nice Christian Tiffert cross, and Saunders stretched out one hand to make a fine save. In the same minute another Montero shot was deflected to Osvaldo Alonso, who shot two yards wide. Rosales' free kick to the penalty spot gave Jhon Kennedy Hurtado a header and he thought he could have done better than send it wide. Rosales got into the penalty area with the ball at 68', cut back and shot at the top far corner, but it was within reach of Saunders.

Then the tide shifted for the Galaxy, starting with Donovan serving Keane for a shot from the arc that missed by a yard. On a corner kick play, the ball was dopped back to Wilhelmsson, who drove a shot just wide from 17 yards.

83' LA: Magee (Keane). Substitute Magee worked a give and go with Keane and was open for a shot from the arc that hit the lower far corner. Seattle paid the price for a momentary lapse in defense. 1-0 LA>

Seattle had two chances left. At 89' Montero got to a long free kick and headed it wide. Seattle netted the ball in the third minute of added time, but the ball was pulled back for hitting Montero in the arm.

Seattle will open the playoffs at Salt Lake, while Los Angeles will host the Vancouver Whitecaps in a one-match contest for the right to face the top seeded San Jose Earthquakes.

           LA   SEA
Shots:     18    18
Saves:      4     3
Corners:    6     6
Fouls:     12    10
Offsides:   2     7

4' LA: Saunders cautioned for handling the ball outside the penalty area to prevent Montero from getting a chance
90' SEA: Alonso cautioned for a skirmish
90' LA: Sarvas cautioned for the same skirmish

Referees: Kevin Stott; Craig Lowry, Frank Anderson; Daniel Radford

Attendance: 27,000

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On tonight's game: "Obviously, you never want to lose a game by giving up a late goal like that. It was a game tonight that could have easily been 6-6. There were chances for both teams. I think you saw two very good teams playing against each other, two good teams that have a lot of ability offensively ... A little bit of an error on our part on the goal. We didn't shift over quick enough and were caught 3-v-2 on the other side of the field, and Magee finished it well. On the other end, we got denied two, three times by Saunders on some pretty big-time saves."

On the atmosphere of the game: "It had two good teams making sure they are ready for the playoffs -- that gave it that playoff intensity. There is a lot of pride in those players that stepped onto the field and that pride was definitely evident. LA is the defending champion and they are not going to give it away easily. We are a team that wants to get there, so we will fight and scratch to get there. It was two teams going at it."

On missed opportunities: "A little break here or there would have made a difference. We hit the post early on, and they hit the post later on with Keane. Fredy's header was clean in. Eddie had a couple opportunities before he came off. In games like that, it is a little bit of, 'Are you able to finish chances when you get them and keep them from finishing their chances when they dominate the game?' It is something that has to serve for us as motivation as we go into our next series of games."

On the team's mood entering the playoffs: "I think we are ready for the playoffs, tonight has to be a good motivator. Sometimes when you get slapped a little bit towards the end of the season it can be a good thing because it reminds you of how that feels, and it is a feeling that you don't want to have come back. I think this team definitely has what it takes to make a run at the championship. There is enough quality on the field, enough quality on our bench, and the desire is definitely there."

On heading into playoff series with Real Salt Lake: "Obviously we need to win at home and we need to get something on the road. We are at home first, last year it was the opposite, so we need to do the same kind of job that they did on us last year. Eddie, we'll see tomorrow exactly where he stands. We took Parke out just out of precaution, because he felt a little bit tight so we wanted to make sure nothing went wrong there. It is something where we have to see where we are at and see what players are available to us. Salt Lake has some guys with injuries, as well. We are going to put out 11 players, they will put out 11 players, and they will decide it on the field."

Brad Evans

On the attacking nature of the game: "Both teams had chances. They were able to capitalize on their one shot from outside the box. I think that overall a decent performance from both sides."

On the Galaxy's performance: "I think if you look at their lineup, that's the way they play. They push numbers forward. They have high quality players and anytime you are going to face that team, they are going to push numbers forward and try to attack. They catch you on a break and both teams like to counterattack, so it's going to happen in this game. We were prepared for it and I think that both defenses made good saves, keepers made good saves. I think we were unlucky not to finish a couple of our chances. But, they finished theirs. It's the name of the game."

Jeff Parke

On coming off early: "I didn't want to pull anything right now. It's crunch time and it's more important that I'm healthy than being out there and trying to push through a game that doesn't really have too much meaning for us. It's just precaution and getting ready for next week."

On the result: "I didn't expect for them to come out and push the way they did. I thought that they would rest more guys for Thursday, getting themselves prepared for an important game. They pushed the game and pushed the tempo. We had our chances, but we definitely didn't expect a game of that magnitude. They played well, but I thought we had our chances."

Los Angeles Galaxy

Bruce Arena - Head Coach

Overall thoughts on tonight's game: "Tonight was a real good game. It was a competitive game, very competitive game, two good teams, and to come out on top is terrific. I think this is a real good week for our team with the win in El Salvador and the win tonight. It's involved twenty-something odd players and I think as we enter the playoffs if we have any aspirations of defending our MLS Cup title, I think obviously we're going to need to use players. We know that group is going to be real difficult on Thursday and if we're fortunate to get past them, it's a quick turnaround. We'll have to use up a player, so I think we've accomplished that this week. That's one of the things tonight, I thought, Bryan Gaul came in and gave us a good 45 minutes for Sean, I think Marcelo and Mike Magee made great contributions as well, and I think that's an important aspect for our team."

On the schedule: "As I just said, we were in El Salvador on Thursday with 15 other players and we were somewhere in El Salvador, I don't know exactly where but it was a lot of travel and a demanding game there and there's no reason to believe our group, majority of them who played tonight, can't recover and be ready on Thursday and others ready for Sunday. However our guys respond we have enough choices to field a team on Thursday and win the game."

On David Beckham and Landon Donovan's return from injury: "I didn't expect Landon to play 90. Beckham would have played 90 if I had allowed it. He's probably going to have me removed from my position. We'll see if I'm here tomorrow, but we need to be smart about that. It was predetermined and we discussed that in advance of this game and he understood the minutes he was going to play."

On Landon Donovan's play: "I told him I wanted him to play a minimum of 60 minutes and gave him the call on whether he could keep going and he said he was fine, he wanted to go. Landon generally needs about a half to get fit and he's one of those rare breeds. I think the 90 minutes was good for him and he should recover fine."

On Robbie Keane's Player of the Year award: "I think it's an honor he really deserves. He's clearly had an outstanding year for us and I think once he returned from the European Championships, he's been as good as any other player in the league. He's been outstanding, and I hate to say this, but I think that award was voted on by the sports writers, which is amazing you guys got something right. I agree completely. Well done."

Robbie Keane

On being named LA Galaxy's Player of the Year: "It's obviously nice to be recognized in my first full season. You never take awards lightly. It's a great achievement, it's great to get them and like I said, it's great to be recognized."

On partnering with Edson Buddle: "It was good. He's getting stronger and stronger. With any player it takes a few games to get your match fitness and he's certainly doing that, so he'll be a key player for us in the next couple weeks hopefully."

On whether his ability to create chances often gets overlooked: "I've always been that kind of player to always create chances. In England, I was kind of a, if you like, a number 10; always played off a big man and played in the hole. Especially when I was at Tottenham for such a long time, I played in the hole and my job was to score goals. I think when people see you as a striker they always judge you on your goals rather than your other play -- your team play or your assists."

On playing a tough game against a strong opponent right before the playoffs: "Listen, there are no easy games. We know that we're playing against a good team and we lost twice to them this season so it was important to get that monkey off our back if you like. Hopefully we'll see them in the semifinals and it'll be the same result."

Mike Magee

On his game-winning goal and the 1-0 result: "I wouldn't call it too clutch. I think if I do that again on Thursday, I'll be a lot happier. We'll take it. We always want to win and especially against a team we're hoping to see in a couple weeks."

On playing Seattle and the tough nature of the game: "I think every time we play them, it's definitely been intense. They're a team that they had to win tonight, so obviously we didn't, but we didn't want to give them any psychological advantage. We never want to lay down in front of our fans or anything like that, so it's always going to be heated no matter what the importance is."

On the performance of goalkeeper Josh Saunders: "Josh was ridiculous tonight. If it weren't for him, I think we're not winning tonight's game. That's how we need Josh and that's the Josh we know. That's what we expect out of him."

On Beckham and Donovan returning to the lineup ahead of the playoffs: "That's massive; without those guys we're taking a huge hit. To get them some minutes and kind of get their legs underneath them before the playoffs is huge."

David Beckham

On his performance and the plan for him to get healthy before the playoffs: "The plan was kind of 60 and I shouted over and said 'can I have 65?' and then I said 70 and then Bruce brought me off at 61, so I wasn't that happy. (laughs) ... But no, obviously it's been a while for me being on the field so it's good to get the minutes I did."

On his fitness: "Today I felt a lot stronger than I did against Colorado when I came back after a few weeks and the ankle didn't feel right. I was honest with Bruce and with the physios, I'm not always honest, but with this I had to be. The ankle wasn't right so I sat out a few more games and then it felt strong today."

On the importance of the result: "You want to play against the best teams and the best players, and obviously Seattle is one of the best teams in the league so tonight was an important game for a few reasons: obviously to kept the momentum going into the playoffs and to get a result against a very good team."

On the changes in the lineup with Donovan playing in midfield and Sarvas coming off the bench: "It's great to have options; it's great for Bruce to have options. Marcelo has been in good form, but Edson has come in, he's playing well. He can beat some people up there and it's good to have a player like him. And then obviously with Landon's pace on the left and Christian's on the right it gives us many options. It's worked well with whatever players have played, but tonight I think we looked good."

On the biggest challenge Vancouver poses: "I think they've got a lot of character as a team. They've obviously got a few good players as well; they've got a lot of unity. When we've played them in the past they've showed that and it's been difficult to break them down and difficult to win the game. There's going to be many obstacles, especially it being a playoff game and a one-off game, it's going to be difficult."

Landon Donovan

On the hard-fought game and the team's performance: "I think the thought process behind Bruce putting out a real lineup as opposed to resting a bunch of guys was we wanted to get some rhythm and some continuity heading into the playoffs. We certainly weren't perfect and we were maybe a little lucky at times and Josh made some good saves, but I thought we played actually pretty well and I think we feel good now going into the playoffs."

On going 90 minutes after missing the last game with injury: "When Sean came out it put us a little behind the eight ball. I was fine, a little tired but I was fine otherwise and we have enough days now, I haven't played in a while, I have enough days to get ready for Thursday, so it was good to get 90 in."

On the team being ready for the playoffs: "I think we feel good. We probably feel like every other team, we think we have a real chance to win it."

On playing in the midfield for the first time in months and where he would like to play going forward: "That's up to Bruce. Edson's been playing well now, and when he's healthy and playing well, he gives us an element that we don't have and he can help us a lot. I thought it worked out pretty well tonight. I thought he played pretty well, maybe on a different night he scores a goal. But, I can play anywhere; I'll let Bruce decide that. I've always been someone who wants to win and I don't care where I play to be honest. I know what my role is regardless of what position I'm in and it doesn't change."