The LA Galaxy surrendered a two goal lead to finish in a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders, a match that was thrilling for neutrals but heartbreak for the Galaxy faithful. Over the course of the final twenty minutes LA lost the advantage in the Supporters' Shield race, and lost Omar Gonzalez for the return leg of the series.
"We were probably just a little too complacent," said Landon Donovan after the match. "We let our foot off the gas a little bit and they made us pay for it."
Seattle went with Brad Evans over Marco Pappa to start with, giving Evans the responsibility of shutting down the Galaxy tandem of Donovan and Robbie Rogers. As a result, the play of Baggio Husidic and Dan Gargan became paramount to LA's success. That goal just before halftime involved some luck, but it wasn't surprising to see Husidic as the guy in the right place. Marcelo Sarvas showed more than capable finishing a Husidic feed.
Needing to chase the match, the Sounders brought in Pappa and picked up the pace. With Donovan and Rogers not closing down Yedlin well enough the Sounders were able to pull within one, and then with LA shaken the quickly got another on Rogers' side.
Robbie Rogers had great defense at other points, his block in the 85' for example was draw saving. LA might have found a way to get the go ahead goal, but then came the predictable substitution that stalled the LA attack. Alan Gordon came in for Baggio Husidic, because LA was looking for some late Gordon magic. He came in for Husidic, who was having a great game, and Zardes moved to the midfield where he was ineffective.
If there was a theme on the night, it was those who were supposed to have control not being able to control things. That Alan Gordon sub was Arena's only change until Leonardo came in on emergency duty to hold the back line with Omar Gonzalez ejected. That Gonzalez ejection came because referee Ismail Elfath gave out too many yellow cards in the first half in an attempt to calm the roughness, allowing for an unnecessary ejection long after the game had cooled down.
"Terrible piece of officiating," said Bruce Arena about the second yellow card.
A win or a draw now for Seattle next week wins the Shield. Had LA held on to the lead, they would have been able to win the Supporters' Shield with a draw in Washington. Going into this series LA needed four points to secure the shield while Seattle only needed two. It was always going to be a tougher task for the Galaxy given the MLS tiebreaker.
In the oldest truism of sports, both teams teams are in control of their own destiny. Neither is reliant upon other results to get the trophy they're after. It's worth noting that there's more than the Shield at stake. It's hard to know opponents based on seeding with FC Dallas and Real Salt lake only a point apart in the standings. In the East, if LA don't get points in Seattle and DC United win next week, they would host an MLS Cup final over LA.
Lots of moving parts to the MLS playoffs with just a week to play. LA vs Seattle is a six pointer, but there's jumping to be done between the other clubs involved. There's nothing boring about the stretch run in Major League Soccer this year.