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23 November 7:49 pm

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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23 November 6:32 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The folks over at Mora Photography have put forth yet another fantastic photo gallery of the LA Galaxy's 1-0 Western Conference Championship first victory over Seattle Sounders FC 

Check it out below. 

 

 

23 November 6:03 pm

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. 

23 November 5:41 pm

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.

(On the importance of the result...)
 
ARENA: “Of course it was important. There were some chances to get a second. Obviously, they had some good chances. Not conceding a goal is important, so that’s a plus. We know it’s going to be a battle there. As you can see, the officiating in these games is important too. I don’t think we quite understand how to deal with this competition with the rules and cards and everything. It’s been crazy. I think it was a little bit hectic in this game. It is what it is. And now we will have two teams going into the game on Sunday with no one suspended, which I guess was the premise behind some of the decisions today. I will give Seattle credit. Good team. No question about it. Seattle is a good team. It will be a battle on Sunday.”
 
(On Jaime Penedo’s game...)
 
ARENA: “Solid. Wasn’t tested as much, but in the first half, they had a little flurry off that one throw in and he came up big. That’s obviously critical in this series.” 
 
(On next week’s lineup...)
 
ARENA: “We don’t know what we are doing next Sunday at this time. We are going to get through the week, get our guys some rest and healthy and then make decisions.”
 
(On Stefan Ishizaki...)
 
ARENA: “He played well. Obviously when they drop back their numbers the way they do, you got to use the width of the field and we were able to do that.” 
 
22 November 4:26 pm

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."

Well then. 

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.”

22 November 2:04 pm

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.

21 November 3:39 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are heading into their Western Conference Championship series with Seattle Sounders FC with a boatload of confidence after the way that they dispatched Real Salt Lake, but three players will need to be cautious heading into the first leg.

Landon Donovan, Robbie Rogers, and Omar Gonzalez are both on yellow card watch heading into Sunday’s first leg. Should either of the three earn a caution from referee Kevin Stott, they will miss out on next week’s second leg at CenturyLink Field. It bears mentioning, however, that no player can be suspended for MLS Cup based on yellow card accumulation.

While Donovan and Rogers are at risk, Gonzalez faces a particular challenge as he looks to avoid a yellow card and mark dynamic strikers Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey.

“I have to be very smart with how I defend and how aggressive I am,” said Gonzalez. “But having said that, I have to leave it all on the field and not worry about the referees or about anything out of my control. I have to worry about how I show up, how I approach the game and how focused I am over 90 minutes."

21 November 2:20 pm

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.”