Monday, November 1, 2010


It’s not often that the Sounders as a team get bullied. With tough, unrelenting players like Osvaldo Alonso and James Riley, Seattle is usually the one nipping at the heels of their opponents, forcing turnovers and sloppy, rushed passes.

Sunday night’s Western Conference semifinal match against the L.A. Galaxy left the Sounders feeling more black and blue than rave green after dropping the first of two games 1-0 to the leagues’ best regular-season team.

The trouble started early when Alonso and Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko went nose to nose in the 4th minute. The game went immediately from an intense playoff meeting into hyper-physical grudge match. Despite whistling nearly 30 fouls during the 95 minute game, Head Referee Ricardo Salazar elected not to show his first of five yellow cards until three minutes into the second half.

When Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid was asked about the officiating, he refused to discuss the subject.

"No comment. The referees are the referees,” said Schmid shaking his head, but the look on his face betrayed his unhappiness.

Although Seattle was able to string together a pair of corner kicks in the 23rd minute, possession was almost impossible to maintain because of the stout defense on both sides and the frequency of fouls made it difficult for either team to gain any momentum.

Edson Buddle broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when he trapped a clearance from L.A. defender Omar Gonzalez. The Galaxy’s leading scorer then turned on Seattle defender Patrick Ianni and lobbed a shot from 30 yards out that beat Kasey Keller to the far post.
When asked to describe Buddle’s goal, Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena took an opportunity to highlight a different aspect of the shot.

"That's a turf ball. There were a lot of turf plays -- balls bouncing around, off of shins, up in the air, out of bounds."

Overlooking the questionable officiating, rough play and “turf balls”, Seattle could have had a much different outcome. The Sounders out shot the Galaxy 15-10 (8-5) on goal, had more corner kicks (8-3) along with fewer fouls (13-16) and yellow cards (2-3). But the most troubling statistic of all is how long the Sounders have gone without a goal in the playoffs.

Statistically, Seattle is due for a goal. The Sounders have now gone 305 minutes without scoring in the playoffs. That’s not 305 minutes since their last goal; the Rave Green has yet to net even a single goal in the postseason dating back to 2009.

As sobering at that figure might be, the fact remains that Seattle was the hottest team in the second half of the MLS season (10-2-3, 33 points) and based on their 2010 regular season average of 1.2 goals per game, the Sounders should score four goals in L.A. next week.

In his post-game press conference, Schmid laid out the Sounders’ situation in the simplest terms:

“At the end of the day, right now, we're down at halftime 1-0 and have a second half to play in L.A. and everything is still possible for us.”

The Sounders play the second leg of the two-game series Sunday, November 7th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Unofficial Box Score

Goals by Period 1 2 Tot
Los Angeles Galaxy 1 0 1
Seattle Sounders FC 0 0 0

Scoring Summary:

LA -- Edson Buddle 1 (Omar Gonzalez 1) 38

Los Angeles Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Eddie Lewis (Gregg Berhalter 84), David Beckham, Juninho, Dema Kovalenko (Chris Birchall 70), Landon Donovan, Mike Magee, Edson Buddle (Jovan Kirovski 73).

Substitutes Not Used: Tristan Bowen, Alex Cazumba, Chris Klein, Josh Saunders.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (David Beckham 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (David Beckham 3); FOULS: 16 (Dema Kovalenko 3, Mike Magee 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Edson Buddle 1, Mike Magee 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (David Beckham 3); SAVES: 8 (Donovan Ricketts 8)

Seattle Sounders FC -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke (Tyrone Marshall 65), Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 74), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis (Nate Jaqua 81), Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo.

Substitutes Not Used: Michael Fucito, Roger Levesque, Zach Scott, Terry Boss.

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Blaise Nkufo 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (3 tied with 2); FOULS: 13 (Leo Gonzalez 3, Sanna Nyassi 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Steve Zakuani 2); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Nathan Sturgis 7); SAVES: 4 (Kasey Keller 4)

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Juninho (caution; Reckless Foul) 48
SEA -- Fredy Montero (caution; Reckless Foul) 49
LA -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Persistent Infringement) 65
LA -- Jovan Kirovski (caution; Reckless Tackle) 82
SEA -- Blaise Nkufo (caution; Goalkeeper Interference) 93+

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Alex Prus
Attendance: 35,521
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-55-degrees