SEATTLE – In the days leading up to the LA Galaxy’s playoff opener against Seattle, it was all but a given that either Gregg Berhalter or A.J. DeLaGarza would not be in the starting lineup.
But hardly anyone expected Eddie Lewis to start in Todd Dunivant’s left back slot.
Still, even with an unsettled defensive lineup, the Galaxy slowed down Seattle’s potent and speedy attackers and started the postseason off with a shutout, posting a 1-0 win over the Sounders in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series at Qwest Field.
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The Galaxy’s defense consisted of Sean Franklin and Lewis on the flanks with Omar Gonzalez and DeLaGarza in the center, the first time all season the quartet started a match. Throwing Lewis on the left back did little to throw the team off its game.
“Eddie’s been around a while,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “He knows how to play. That’s the beauty of having a team that’s this deep. There’s not many teams in the league that would substitute a guy like that, that would have a game like that in a meaningful game like this.”
Lewis’s last league start was in March, but he went the distance twice during the US Open Cup and once in a CONCACAF Champions League game. Still, he logged just 250 minutes in the regular season.
“I was ready to step in on the back and I felt comfortable with the role,” said Lewis, who has stated he will retire at the end of this season. “It’s been a while, I haven’t played a ton of minutes. It was a big game and just wanted to step in and keep it going.”
Sounders midfielders Steve Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi were supposed to give the Galaxy fits with their blazing speed, but ultimately had little influence in the game. Knowing their style, the Galaxy figured out the best way to slow down the Sounders.
“We know they have a lot of speed so going into the game we just knew that we had to keep them in front of us, keep the game in front of us,” Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez said. “The midfielders and forwards did a great job of putting pressure on them and made it really easy and predictable for us to go into challenges.”
With the Galaxy ahead 1-0 on the series, LA host Seattle in the second game of the two-leg, home-and-home Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday, November 7 at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN. BUY TICKETS