LA Galaxy v Sounders FC – Monday Morning Centerbacking
by Kyle Alm
Going down to Los Angeles and getting a point has never been easy for Sounders. There should be some small amount of satisfaction in drawing first blood in LA and holding on for a point.
The match was always going to be a bit disappointing given all of the Clint Dempsey-Landon Donovan hype that built up and fizzled out which should be a lesson to the marketing men, not to sell the league using individual players no matter how much you paid for them.
Neither team played particularly well which was not too surprising given who was missing and what they provide for both teams, but still disappointing considering the quality of players who did take the pitch.
Most disappointing was the lack of goals from the run off play. Seattle got an Eddie Johnson header yet again from a Mauro Rosales corner, and LA took advantage of Zach Scott’s foul and caution to great effect.
Juninho would likely be my Man of the Match. His free kick was quite a remarkable one, traveling right over Lamar Neagle’s head and dipping into the bottom corner about a yard out of reach from an outstretched Michael Gspurning. The timing of it was even better, coming right at the end of added time in the first half. It felt inevitable and improbable at the same time.
Gspurning would be Sounders best candidate for MOTM honors, he came up with a big fingertip save in the run of play on Gyasi Zardes in the first half. It was surprising that the Austrian only recorded one official save on the score sheet. That was also the save tally for Penedo.
Brad Evans had half of a chance in the second half after coming on as a substitute that would have required great skill to put on frame. As more natural finishers, Dempsey or Oba Martins could have done a little more with it.
Evans also created a fantastic opportunity late that a wide-open Lamar Neagle was unable to put on frame from the penalty spot. Evans has been missing time due to a strained calf but Seattle have been missing him more.
LA had a flurry of chances created at the end of the second half that also saw Zach Scott drawing his second yellow card and being sent off. Sounders were fortunate that their defense held the draw.
If anything Scott maximized the value of his bookings. One did lead directly to a goal, but both were seemed the lesser of scoring opportunities had Scott allowed himself to be beaten.
That the free kick was so perfect it beat the massive and on form Gspurning, was unfortunate for the Hawaiian because not much is beating the Austrian these days.
It was a veteran decision and the unfortunate downside is missing Scott for the current table toppers in MLS, New York Red Bulls.
Fabian Espindola and Thierry Henry are going to be a handful, it would be preferable to have options at center-back.
If anything Sigi Schmid may regret not using one of his substitutes for Mauro Rosales in the 76th minute or Oba Martins in the 82nd to replace Scott who was carrying a caution.
Andy Rose for Adam Moffat in the 65th minute makes sense as a straight position swap, and Moffat needed to get his first minutes with his new team, especially since it appears that Moffat could be stepping into center mid while Dempsey is on the mend.
Dempsey’s hamstring is a concern. It may be pessimistic to assume that the hamstring injury is severe simply because Dempsey did not travel with the team. Staying home for treatment at the club’s facilities would be a good idea if it were a mild hamstring injury or a severe one.
As far as injuries go it’s a difficult one to prevent outside of being fit. Hamstring injuries can be done in a week or two, be a nagging issue all season, or, a absolute (rare) worst case scenario, degenerative.
Over under for Dempsey’s return is the Whitecaps at Seattle October 9th.
Like their last home match against RSL, Sounders play for first place (again) with two matches (still) in hand at home, this time it is the New York Red Bulls and Thierry Henry.
New York have hit their stride topping the table, living up to their payroll, and lampooning their opponents with epic goal celebrations. Sounders can take that all back from them.
Yet again, the marketing men have their dream fixture.