Arena, on qualifying for MLS Cup, Seattle Sounders FC and more

19 November 12:29 pm

Arena, on qualifying for MLS Cup, Seattle Sounders FC and more

By Adam Serrano

SEATTLE -- The mood in the LA Galaxy locker room said it all after the club advanced to the MLS Cup by defeating Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Championship 4-2 on aggregate -- LA may be in the final, but the job is by no means complete.

Below Bruce Arena discusses LA's advancement to MLS Cup, the play of Juninho, Robbie Keane's penalty and more

(On his general game impressions…)

ARENA: “Well we didn’t play particularly well tonight; there’s no question about that. We did what we came here to do, to advance into the MLS Cup finals, so that was achieved. Obviously the conditions were difficult, with the surface and the rain and Seattle played quite well, no question about that. Having said all that, we won this competition 4-2 and deserve to move forward. We’ve got a couple weeks to get ready for a real good team. Houston’s in terrific form right now, so it’s going to be a heck of a challenging final.”

(On whether he feels his team escaped…)

ARENA: “There were a lot of tense moments. No, I don’t feel we escaped anything. We won 4-2 on aggregate; what’s there to escape from?”

(On whether the penalty kick converted to a goal by Keane was a legitimate penalty…)

ARENA: “I didn’t see it, so I couldn’t tell you.  But even if we don’t get the penalty, we still advance 3-2 then.”

(On Keane and on the performance of the two clubs…)

ARENA: “A game like tonight, you need someone to make a play. No question, we were not in good form tonight. We didn’t play particularly well. We couldn’t pass the ball. Seattle battled great. They competed hard and won a bunch of second balls and put us under a lot of pressure.

(On his thoughts on the Sounders…)

ARENA: “We prevailed. We knew it was going to be difficult coming in here, and it certainly was.  I give our team credit for advancing, and certainly give Seattle a lot of credit. Sigi [Schmid] does a terrific job with this team and they can continue to be one of the premier franchises in the MLS.”

(On  what Seattle did to make things difficult for his team…)

ARENA: “I just think that they could take a lot of risk. They’re a little bit more comfortable on this surface than we are, but they pressured us for every ball. They positioned themselves better and were much more aggressive for second balls. Basically, on the night, they outworked us.”

(On Marcelo Sarvas’ performance and on Juninho and Landon Donovan….)

“It was a solid performance.  We really missed Juninho, and I thought Juninho did a terrific job in his 25 to 30 minutes – I don’t know exactly what he played – probably 25 minutes. He did a very good job. We wanted to be careful with him tonight, as we did with Landon [Donovan].

(On the first 20 minutes of the game…)

ARENA: “Yeah, we didn’t do well. We didn’t pass well tonight, we didn’t win second balls, and that was the difference. You know, you’ve got to give Seattle credit.  They’re behind three goals and they’ve gotta lay it all on the line and be very aggressive and be a little bit risky, which they were with their line.  And the conditions certainly helped, because it was a little bit difficult, passing the ball, and you could see our players are not fully confident on the surface, but that’s our problem, not theirs.”

(On what he said to his team after the game…)

ARENA: “I didn’t say a whole lot. We know we didn’t play particularly well. We knew it would be challenging, and the objective here was to advance to the MLS Cup Final and that was accomplished.”

(On his season and his team…)

ARENA: “It’s been a really challenging season and it’s taken a lot of character and talent to get where we are today. Not many teams would have positioned themselves… After 14 games, we basically conceded the Supporter Shield, 14 games into the season. The objective then was to get into the playoffs. We went on a run that was fabulous. Last 17 games of the season, we had 34 points. Thank god you guys aren’t smart enough to figure that out so we could kind of do it quietly and get ourselves going again. We’re back in the Final and hopefully we can have an improved performance from tonight because the team I saw play in DC today was a damn good team.”

(On LA getting a foothold after Seattle dominated the first 20 minutes…)

ARENA: “We got a few passes together which helped.  We did a little bit better defensively. On the night, I thought Seattle’s aggressiveness was terrific and they put us on a lot of pressure over the 94 minutes of the game.”

(On whether it was the biggest test LA has had this year…)

ARENA: “I wouldn’t say that, they’re all tough games, but the two teams in the final beat a lot of good teams in the league so it should make for a terrific final.”

(On the parity in MLS…)

ARENA: “Obviously, a lot of people would have thought that the four and five seeds would reach the final, but I think that clearly the Galaxy in the west, we’re in an unbelievably difficult division, I think. It’s a lot of good teams and any are capable of advancing. And Houston, as we’ve seen over the last month or so has really come into great form and they have a really terrific team, it’s going to be a great final.”