The LA Galaxy drew 1-1 with the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night, getting the point necessary to remain third overall in the Western Conference. The LA Galaxy will now take on Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinal starting next Sunday at 6:00pm, while the Sounders will have to play the Colorado Rapids for the right to play the Portland Timbers.
Seattle got an early goal from Clint Dempsey, his first since returning to MLS. LA were able to find an equaliser before half-time in the form of an Omar Gonzalez header, but despite the ball going over the line the referees never called for a goal. Luckily Robbie Keane was able to bounce in an equaliser in the second half setting everything right.
"It's always dangerous when a team goes 1-0 up," said Robbie Keane, "When you're playing against the Galaxy, we know we're quite capable of scoring at any time and that was the case. So maybe in the first half they thought the game was over, but in the second half we came back strong and looked like the team that was always going to score."
The Sounders did take their foot off the pedal in the second half, only taking two shots in the forty-five minutes of normal time. When LA got into the seventieth minute they had a five minute stretch with four attempts with the fourth resulting in a goal.
With Juninho suspended, Marcelo Sarvas had to do extra work in the central midfield picking up a yellow card in the process. Omar Gonzalez also involved himself in the attack a number of times, playing behind a mostly ineffective Michael Stephens.
"That was the type of performance that champions make," said Landon Donovan, "and we got away from that a little bit in the last few weeks but I thought tonight was just a bunch of men that put it in and put in a real performance. It's a little disappointing because we probably should have won the game but to fight back after all that and still get the goal and get the tie we needed was really important."
The knockout nature of the playoffs means the only way to go forward is to score goals. This month began with a 5-0 drubbing, and a closely fought 1-0 victory over Montreal that took Keane playing in his second match in as many days. Donovan's likely referring to the 0-0 draw with San Jose, where LA had a chance to truly better their playoff position and didn't find that goal. Here, facing a one off elimination match should they loose, LA found it in them to push for that equaliser.
Missing the play-in game goes beyond missing inconvenience. Gonzalez and Donovan still aren't 100% and need the extra rest days to heal up. Robbie Rogers needs more time practicing with the first time if he's going to be effective in the playoffs. A.J. DeLaGarza needs to get reps again after coming back from injury. LA needs to get their playoff squad together and that starts in practice.
"It was a great game," said Robbie Rogers. "It was a tough game and I was surprised I lasted as long as I did. I thought I put in a pretty good shift defensively. I almost had that chance in the first half."
Rogers has a ways to go, but he did find a bit of a rhythm defensively and had a great shot on goal that took a good save from Gspurning to keep out. Gyasi Zardes on the other wing didn't have as good a performance as he's shown himself capable of in recent weeks.
LA has a lot to take away from this match, and have a full week to rest up and practice will go a long way toward their opening playoff performance.