CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have one foot in the MLS Cup final with their 1-0 Western Conference Championship first leg victory over Seattle Sounders FC,, but it’s not time to celebrate just yet.
LA must first earn a result in their second leg at CenturyLink Field this Sunday. Holding a 1-0 advantage after their home leg provides LA with comfort especially considering that away goals will be used as the first tiebreaker in the series.
Ahead of Sunday’s clash, the list below includes all of the potential scenarios for LA to reach MLS Cup:
LA GALAXY WIN ON THE ROAD
*Any victory for the Galaxy in Seattle will send them through to the championship.
LA GALAXY EARN A DRAW
*Any draw between the two teams including, but not limited to a scoreless tie will see the Galaxy advance.
LA GALAXY LOSE TO SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
*Now here is where it gets a little tricky.
A 1-0 victory by Seattle will see the match go into extra time—where away goals are not weighted any further—and could lead to a penalty kick shootout. Any other one goal victory by the Sounders wherein the Galaxy scores a goal will see LA advance to the championship. However, if the Sounders are able to win by a two goal or more margin, no matter LA’s score, then Seattle will advance to MLS Cup for the first time in MLS history.
CARSON, Calif. – Tommy Meyer came through in the clutch during the LA Galaxy’s run to the 2012 MLS Cup and as they look to add a fifth title to the mantel, the defender may be coming up big yet again.
Filling in for the injured Leonardo, Meyer put forth a strong performance on Sunday in the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in their Western Conference Championship first leg. Alongside Omar Gonzalez, Meyer was immense in shutting down the Sounders scoring tandem of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, frequently limiting their chances to place chances on frame for goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
“It was good. It was my first 90 minutes in awhile and I got through” Meyer said. "You just have to be aware of where they are when they have the ball and be in position."
For all his brevity, the stats showcased the magnitude of his showing as he made three recoveries and interceptions apiece as well as six clearances on the night. The finest moment for the defender came in the 78th minute when he scooped up a Martins pass to Dempsey and shut down a Seattle breakaway.
Meyer’s stellar showing defensively earned him universal praise from the Galaxy locker room, including midfielder Landon Donovan.
“Tommy was great,” Donovan said. “Tommy hasn’t played in a long time. He came in two weeks ago against Salt Lake and was excellent. He was very good again tonight. There were a couple of plays that were a little dicey, but you expect that from a guy that hasn’t played in a long time. I thought he was terrific. I thought that him and Omar [Gonzalez] did a great job shutting down those two. Those two are very, very difficult to play against. They did a great job. And we will need the same next week from them.”
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez says referee Kevin Stott kept players on the field with an eye to the second leg
CARSON, Calif. – There were hard challenges aplenty on both sides during the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC, but the home side believed that Seattle were fortunate to end the match with 11 men.
LA’s ire was focused on Seattle center back Zach Scott who was given a yellow card by head referee Kevin Stott in the 37th minute but did not see a second caution—and subsequent expulsion—despite three additional challenges later. But it was Scott’s foul on Alan Gordon in the dying moments that drew the most criticism thanks to a conversation that Omar Gonzalez alleged post game.
“It’s tough when Stott says to one of your players that he’s not going to give a player another yellow because he wants the best players to play in the next game,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s not his job to focus on the next game. It’s his job to focus on the game tonight, the game in hand. For him to say that to one of our players is pretty ridiculous, but like I said in a past interview, I’m not thinking about that issue anymore. It’s out of my control; it’s out of our control. They’re going to do what they want. It’s our job to get the job done with our play.”
Neither Gordon nor Stott spoke after the match, but when Scott and Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid had their own thoughts on the official’s allowance of the physical play.
“I don’t know how else to play to be honest with you. A lot of times I tell that line, and today was especially frustrating considering the way the ref called the game,” the Sounders center back said. “But that is just something that I’ve just got to deal with as a player and move on. It’s fine now going into the next leg, another card isn’t going to keep me out of the final.”
Added Schmid, “I think we benefit a little there. I think in most games, the referee would have pulled that second yellow so I’m not going to pretend I didn’t see that or argue about that. But there were also other calls that I don’t understand. I don’t understand how it’s not a foul when [Brad] Evans gets kicked early in the first half. He’s not the kind of guy to lay on the ground and dive, so if he is down he got hit. I think one time Omar [Gonzalez] was screening the ball and he just waited for a little touch and then he fell over like who knows what and all of a sudden it’s a foul. I thought, ‘are you kidding me?’. So a couple plays there, but we were fortunate that Zach [Scott] stayed on the field.”
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CARSON, Calif. – Injuries forced both A.J. DeLaGarza and Marcelo Sarvas from the start of the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC, but both players are confident that they’ll be available for next week’s decisive second leg in the Pacific Northwest.
Amid a chippy and physical game that featured a total of 25 fouls, DeLaGarza was forced to make a precautionary exit in the 61st minute with what was described as a left hamstring strain—an injury that DeLaGarza told reporters afterward that he did not remember occurring.
“I don’t remember, but I’ll be fine. We have a week until our next match, so get some rest of whatever my issue is,” said DeLaGarza. “I think I could have [gone the full 90 minutes], but at that point we were winning and obviously they’re going to come at us pretty hard. I thought it was smart to let Gargan come in and have someone track back quicker than me probably.”
Meanwhile, Sarvas who left with an apparent left hip injury less than 10 minutes later also admitted that he is confident of returning to the starting lineup by the time the series shifts to Seattle.
“In that play, I don’t know, I got hit in my muscle very close to the bone. It was hard when I stepped on my left leg I felt the muscle pulling so I had to stop,” said the Brazilian who gave the Galaxy the win with his goal in the 52nd minute of play. “I spoke with the doctor and I think we’re going to have to do an x-ray tomorrow. I don’t think it’s something that would keep me out of the next game.”
Galaxy boss Bruce Arena in his own postgame media availability did not appear too concerned that both players who combined for LA's lone goal of the afternoon will miss the second leg.
“I expect them to be OK,” Arena said.
Bruce Arena speaks after the LA Galaxy's 1-0 Western Conference Championship first leg victory over Seattle Sounders FC
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was less than pleased following his team's 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in their Western Conference Championship first leg.
Arena's thoughts are below.
Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso's status still a question mark heading into LA Galaxy match
CARSON, Calif. -- One of the main matchup questions heading into Sunday's Western Conference Championship first leg between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC is the status of Sounders midfield engine Osvaldo Alonso.
Despite Seattle boss Sigi Schmid appearing confident that Alonso -- who has made the trip from the Pacific Northwest -- will be ready by gametime, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena had a different opinion according to Matt Pentz of the Seattle Times.
"'He's not going to go," Arena said on Saturday. "I'd bet the house on that."
Alonso's absence will make life considerably easier for LA midfielders Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho as the Brazilians will likely match up against either Michael Ariza -- a like-for-like replacelement -- or more offensive minded Andy Rose.
But no matter what happens with Alonso's status, Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan says LA want the star midfielder on the field when the game kicks off on Sunday.
“Ozzie makes them a very good team,” Donovan said. “He is unquestionably their engine, and he's really their leader. When you take him off the field, they're affected pretty severely, we know that.
“We hope he plays,” Donovan added. “We know he hasn't trained all week, so it's looking less and less likely that he will play, but we're going to prepare as if he's playing, and we want him to play. If we're going to win, we want to beat the best team.”
WATCH: My Insider Breakdown of the Western Conference Championship between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC
In my latest edition of "Insider Breakdown," I look at the LA Galaxy's Western Conference Championship first leg against Seattle Sounders FC
Check it out above.
Robbie Keane says Gyasi Zardes must get back to basics if he's going to score against Seattle Sounders FC
CARSON, Calif. – Gyasi Zardes took MLS by storm with 16 goals in his second season with the LA Galaxy, but since finding the back of the net on Sept. 28, the forward has been silent.
Recently, Zardes has seen his amount of chances dwindle from an average of just over a shot on goal per game after the New York Red Bulls match to just two chances in the entirety of his six-game scoring drought.
Although the 23-year-old forward has failed to bury his chances as of late, his strike partner, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane says Zardes must get back to basics if he’s going to find the back of the net against Seattle Sounders FC this weekend.
“He has to get back to understanding what got him here in the first place. The most important thing that he has to understand is to be a team player first. If you’re a team player first then everything else will take care of itself,” Keane said after training earlier this week. “He needs to get back to what he’s good at, which is getting behind the defense and creating opportunities. But when he gets those opportunities then he has to take them and in the last few games, he hasn’t. He needs to get back to that.
“Like any striker, you always go through stages where you don’t score and it plays in your mind. The most important thing is that he has to get that out of his head fairly quickly, because when you’re going into games thinking that you haven’t scored for a while, it’ll work against you. One thing that I would say is that when you get an opportunity, rather than be clever and try to place it, sometimes just put your foot through and try to smash it. Usually that has worked for me over the years when I haven’t scored in a few games.”
To his credit, Zardes agrees that if he’s going to find the back of the net in LA’s Western Conference Championship series, he has to be sharper in front of the net
“To be honest, I’m working extremely hard and there are numerous opportunities, but I'm just going to keep doing the same things that I've been doing. I've been unlucky, but the [chances] are there,” said Zardes. “I just think that I have to get on the end of crosses because if you look at my goals, they typically come with solid link-up play with Robbie.”
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy will renew their rivalry with Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship.
In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's By the Numbers, I take a look at the club's record in Conference Championship games.
Check it out below.