Sounders Win but Galaxy Advance


Johnson shoots to give Sounders the lead.

Sounders 2 : 1 LA Galaxy (Galaxy win 4-2 on aggregate)

by David Wittstock

Seattle Sounders beat the LA Galaxy 2-1 but fell 4-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Western Conference playoffs, Sunday night in Seattle.

Goals from Eddie Johnson and Zach Scott had Sounders faithful delirious as a miracle comeback came into view, but a Galaxy goal off a penalty mid-way through the second half killed the tie.

Coming off the crushing 3-0 defeat in LA a week ago, Sounders put in a performance that in some measure redeemed themselves for the first leg, but in the end found the deficit too much to overcome.

Kicking off in a chilly and soggy Sunday evening, Seattle were buoyed by the late change less than a half an hour to game time which added Mauro Rosales to the bench in place of Alex Caskey.

Steve Zakuani got the start on the left wing, the only change from the side that lost in LA a week ago.

Seattle started the game with an urgency natural for the huge task at hand. Sounders’ first ten minutes had the intensity of the final moments of extra time in a close match.

Eddie Johnson wasted a brilliant opportunity in the fourth minute to put Sounders out front and LA under real pressure. Fredy Montero picked Johnson on a run and played a long, curving ball from the left springing the striker one v one with keeper Josh Saunders. Johnson dribbled to the edge of the 18 yard box, but his shot was high over the crossbar.

Seattle had a goal ruled offside in the 10th minute, which was shown on replay to be an incorrect decision. Christian Tiffert just off the right and 25 yards out fed Johnson on a run towards the near post. Johnson’s shot found the bottom corner but was ruled offside. The replay showed Johnson to be a step behind the last defender. Zakuani was offside but inactive.

There was no doubt, however, a minute later when Johnson again finished to cut Seattle’s deficit to two goals. The play started with a Brad Evans pass being deflected and bouncing towards Zach Scott who dove in to challenge for the ball. The ball left Scott’s boot into the path of Johnson’s run on the left side of the box and with a step on Omar Gonzalez.

On this occasion Johnson kept his shot low and found the back of the net to send the large rain sodden crowd wild.

The chances began flowing for Seattle as Galaxy were overwhelmed by the intensity of Seattle’s attack.

Fredy Montero had a golden opportunity to pull a second goal back when Tiffert found him at the edge of the six yard box unmarked. The Colombian appeared to mistime his header and couldn’t muster the strength required to direct a strong effort on goal. It was caught easily by Saunders.

As the half progressed both sides settled in to the game and the match lost some of the chaotic energy that marked the opening 20 minutes. At minute 31 Seattle again got forward and earned a corner kick. On the ensuing set piece, the ball deflected out to Alonso at 25 yards who took a touch and fired on goal forcing a diving save out of Saunders.

Galaxy had a rare opportunity as the half approached 40 minutes when Mike Magee, on the left side, played a cross towards Edson Buddle with Gspurning slightly off his line. The cross was too high for Buddle; had it been accurate Buddle would have been shooting on an empty net.

Minutes before halftime referee Mark Geiger made one of his first major decisions when he chose not to call handball on Jhon Hurtado. Mike Magee found the ball and space just inside the box, took a touch and shot on goal. The ball appeared to hit Hurtado in the hand, though the defender was pulling his arm back towards his body from a raised position.

Omar Gonzalez outjumps Fredy Montero

The sides went into half with Seattle up a goal, but still down two on aggregate.

The second half was not a minute underway when Fredy Montero just missed with his head after a long throw in from Zach Scott.

Sounders dream comeback got one goal closer after a spectacular diving header in the 57th minute from Zach Scott. The goal came off a corner kick with Christian Tiffert providing the service. Scott ran from the top of the box towards the near post, dove to meet the ball and deflected it in at the tightest of angles past Saunders.

Sounders fans erupted at the goal and the match looked ready to boil over in the following 10 minutes as Seattle streamed forward in search of the third, critical goal.

The match would come back to earth shortly when referee Geiger called penalty in the 67th for a handball on Adam Johansson. Robbie Keane, the two goal hero for LA in the first leg, got on the end of a ball in the box, took it to the end line before lifting it up and striking Johansson whose hands were too far from his body for him to be charging down the ball. The ball hit his left arm clearly and possibly then his right and Geiger pointed to the spot. Keane buried the ensuing spot kick in the right corner, as Gspurning dove left.

At the 73rd minute Sigi subbed on David Estrada and Mario Martinez as Seattle pushed forward, but the Galaxy goal had taken much of the edge from what had been a frenetic half.

Galaxy packed it in and subbed on defenders late and Sounders couldn’t find the key to get their third goal. A Jeff Parke header on the edge of full time and a David Estrada shot went wide and were saved.

The sides played out four minutes of added time as Seattle’s season came to a close.

A contingent of Sounders ran to the referee after the whistle which resulted in Alonso receiving his second yellow, resulting in a red. Sounders’ season ended in a flurry of complaints and abuse at a referee.

That was a pity because this was a splendid performance and that is what fans should hold onto till next March.

Also See:

Editorial: Sigi should stay but he and the Sounders have to change

Sounders Player Ratings

LA Galaxy Player Ratings

Match Photo Gallery

Zach Scott stoops to put Sounders 2-0 ahead

Scoring Summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (Zach Scott) 12′

SEA – Zach Scott (Christian Tiffert) 57′

LA – Robbie Keane (PK) 68′



Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson (Mario Martinez 74), Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Christian Tiffert, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani (Mauro Rosales 81), Fredy Montero (David Estrada 73), Eddie Johnson.


Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Leo Gonzalez, Andy Rose, Sammy Ochoa.





LA Galaxy – Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas, Christian Wilhelmsson (Juninho 62), Edson Buddle (Michael Stephens 84), Robbie Keane.

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul, Pat Noonan, Jose Villarreal.



Misconduct Summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 68′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 74′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90+5′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (ejection) 90+5′


Referee: Mark Geiger

Referee’s Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Gregory Baker

4th Official: Ismail Elfath

Attendance: 44,575

Time of Game: 1:53

Weather: Rainy and 48 degrees




  1. Please do not give Alonso the armband again, he cannot keep his cool. I’ve never felt he should be wearing it. Mr Editor, make it so!

  2. Pity to end that way? The penalty call was questionable at best and criminal at worst. The goal disallowed in the first was youth club officiating. The Sounders had every right to be heated at the referees and I for one thought their passion shown towards the refs reflected a game where these calls drastically affected the outcome.

    • Dan,

      the penalty call was correct. The goal ruled out was wrong but marginally wrong. Still wrong though.

      • No their has to be intentional handling of the ball. Where was the intent to stop the ball, it just deflected off the hand from close range and went out for a corner. Their was not advantage gained from the ball hitting the hand. This is a simple no call and should have been a corner..

      • I won’t take issue with it being “correct” to call it a handball. I think that the concern is the consistency. Geiger was consistently calling those as “ball to hand” all game and all over the field. And aside from being in the penalty box, I fail to how this was that different (you could argue that it was a goal scoring opportunity, but If you look at the box- LA had one guy in there and he was well covered. That wasn’t developing into a goal scoring play). Which makes me think Geiger treated this differently preciscely because it was in the box.

        So I actually agree with you that that’s probably a correct call- but I don’t think it was consistent with how he was calling the game to that point. To me, that makes it more of a judgement call – and if so, that’s a very big, very impactful judgement call.

        • GoatBoy,

          “you could argue that it was a goal scoring opportunity, but If you look at the box- LA had one guy in there and he was well covered. That wasn’t developing into a goal scoring play”

          That’s simply not a relevant rule or a rule at all in a penalty handball decision. Sigi made it up to hoodwink fans into their normal sense of injustice. The Denial of a Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) is irrelevant to a handball call in the area.

          It’s Year 4. Sigi should not be re-writing the FIFA rule book for his own ends and you should be holding him accountable not quoting him when he does.

          • @Editor-

            Please don’t put words in my mouth- I know it’s not relevant in this case.

            My point was that Geiger had been letting those calls go all night, with the only difference this time being, in my view, the location. I never said it should matter to a specific, letter of the law interpretation. However, we all know that the situation can be very impactful to a ref’s call-especially in a game changing situation. I’ve seen that call made (like last night) and I’ve seen plenty of corner kicks given in the same situation.

            I would be very interested in your view on that aspect of last nights game), but please don’t assume I look to Sigi for a rules explanation on a game I’ve played for 30 years.

  3. The only thing to solve the poor referee’s in the MLS will be instant replay, we won’t need goal line technology we need the correct call made.. Goals should not be call back when they are not off side.. Hand balls have to be intentional not accidental…. If the calls are made correctly maybe we don’t miss several other opportunities..

  4. On referee’s:
    The Johnson offside was really an egregious call considering the linesman had a clear view of play and Johnson was several feet on the right side of defender. Lucky for us he scored again a minute later so it probably didn’t make much difference in the outcome. The penalty could have gone either way. Its was basically the exact same type of play as Hurtado’s non-pk handball and the non-pk handball against LA in the first leg. Those plays are 50/50, unlucky for us the call went our way only 1 out 3 times. Perhaps if there was a 4th controversial pk shout it we would have gotten that one and it would have been even. Damn you odd numbers

    Hattrick is right, on plays like that the only way to possibly improve referee’s would be by using instant replay and even then there will be debate. Its an impossible job to do perfectly. My only problem with Geiger from last night is his lack of conviction to stand up to LA for time wasting and a couple of hard fouls. He gave them the old stern talking to several times over the entire course of the match. Eventually he has to card them. He had no problem carding Seattle’s players when it was deserved. Why the pause when LA earned it? That lack of consistency was unnerving.

    Also, there was a call when Zak earned a corner kick and it was given as a goal kick. When the defender runs to cover the near post after dribbling the ball out of bounds that has to be a hint that you were wrong Geiger. 🙂 For some reason that one bugged me more then any pk. Probably because there really was no controversy. It was just wrong 🙂

    • I’m not trying to say the referee should be a talking point about this match because he did a fine job for what he was tasked with. Soccer has a big problem with the referees being over tasked and given an impossible job to do. An NFL game has 7 referees on the field on every play. 7! Soccer has 4 and one doesn’t do anything except ignore coaches yelling at him as a surrogate for the other 3. 2 of those are stuck on the sidelines and really only given one job to do. The real problem is there need to be more men on the field making calls and watching for fouls. Things will never change until FIFA stops relying on one man to try to do the impossible. Heck, the NBA has 3 equal officials on the court and the court is a third the size with less then half the players.

      • Tim,

        What bothers me and makes fans of this club a laughing stock is that such things only seem to be of concern here when Sounders FC lose a game.

        • The majority of fans of every team loves the referee when things go their way and hate them when things don’t. This isn’t exclusive to Seattle fans.

          • I’m not saying it is. It’s the cries for wholesale re-writing of the rule book to suit the club, often with retroactive application, that irks. Every side gets bad and good calls. Not every coach claims personal vendettas and not every coach explodes when the referee was actually correct.