The Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy played to a wild, emotional 1-1 draw on Sunday night in Galaxy boss Sigi Schmid’s first visit to CenturyLink Field since his dismissal from the Seattle job in July 2016. Roman Torres was sent off late after substitute Lamar Neagle canceled out Gyasi Zardes’ first half header.
Photos by Matt Warso & Nick Danielson, captions by Steven Agen
Schmid was greeted with a warm cheer from the Seattle crowd before the match. He stopped and shook hands with every player and staff member in Sounders’ technical area before hugging his former assistant coach Brian Schmetzer on his way to the visitors’ bench. With Galaxy sitting at 9th in the Western Conference, taking points off 2nd-place Seattle seemed a tall task before kickoff.
Joevin Jones missed the Seattle game day roster entirely (a result of internal club fallout from his early departure to national team duty a week ago) but an otherwise first-choice Sounders lineup started the match relatively evenly against the underdog visitors. Jordan Morris had the ball in the net on 20′ but was rightly deemed offside on Clint Dempsey’s through ball.
25′: Goal! Seattle Sounders 0, LA Galaxy 1
Galaxy took a surprise lead after Romain Alessandrini crossed to an unmarked Gyasi Zardes in the middle of the area. Zardes directed his header past goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the net. Schmid’s men were fully deserving of their lead after a competent 25 minutes, building through the wings in attack while limiting Sounders opportunities in transition.
Goalkeeper Jon Kempin was forced to exit the match just before the half hour mark following a collision in the area. Brian Rowe subbed on after Kempin tried to continue but ultimately required relief. Just three minutes after entering the match, Rowe saved Clint Dempsey’s top-corner free kick effort to keep the match at 1-0.
Sounders responded to the opening goal and pushed for an equalizer before half, but Galaxy held firmly through the break. The first half featured only one yellow card, while the second would see an additional six brandished along with one red card as the match heated up.
Jordan Morris pulled up grabbing his right hamstring after turning on the jets to chase down a long ball over the top on 61′. The forward was unable to put much weight on his right foot as he was helped off the field. The blow was far bigger for Sounders in the context of the rest of their season rather than the night, and they’ll eagerly await news about Morris’ condition as more information becomes available about his recovery timeline next week. Will Bruin subbed on in his place, heading a Lodeiro cross over the bar just after joining the action.
Sounders naturally controlled the run of play as they chased a tying goal, but Galaxy threatened on numerous occasions as the second half progressed. LA looked nearly as likely as the hosts to score the game’s second goal, and they looked comfortable defending with everyone behind the ball in other stretches.
85′: Goal! Seattle Sounders 1, LA Galaxy 1
Sounders eventually broke through after a period of sustained pressure. Roman Torres acrobatically redirected an Alonso diagonal towards substitute Lamar Neagle, who slammed the ball into the bottom left corner with the aid of a slight deflection. The now four-time Sounder scored his first goal for the club in 805 days in what seemed to be a match of repeating oddities — injuries, spells of chippy fouls, and immediate impacts from substitutes all occurred multiple times on Sunday night. The goal also snapped a streak of 410 consecutive minutes without a goal from the run of play for Seattle.
89′: Red Card – Roman Torres, Seattle Sounders
Roman Torres was sent off just before injury time when he was judged to have dragged Jermaine Jones to the turf just outside the Seattle penalty area. There is little doubt that Torres was the last defender, and thus subject to punishment for denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but replays indicated the call was dubious at best. VAR did not choose to intervene, but referee Drew Fischer did hold play up to see if the booth would recommend a review. No review followed, and Sounders finished the match down a man.
Referee Drew Fischer proved to be a main point of discussion in both head coaches’ post-game press conferences, each criticizing various aspects of Fischer’s performance. A national television audience weighed in online as well with a number of noted pundits expressing all-around disapproval with the showing.
The draw leaves Seattle at 2nd place in the West and LA 9th. All of the complaints from Schmid, Schmetzer and the wider soccer community are worth little now as both clubs must move on quickly and turn their attention to difficult games next weekend. A trip to suddenly-struggling FC Dallas next Saturday won’t be a walk in the park for Seattle, who may be unbeaten in 12 matches but are also now winless in 3. Galaxy, for their part, host league-leading Toronto FC on the same day.