CARSON, Calif. – Coming into The Home Depot Center already down a goal is a difficult task for any team. Sunday night, it proved too much for the Sounders.
The visitors looked thoroughly outclassed in a disastrous first half, when Los Angeles scored twice on David Beckham set pieces to effectively remove all doubt from the final outcome: a 2-1 loss on the evening and a 3-1 defeat on aggregate.
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Although Seattle battled back to score a late consolation goal, by then, the mountain to climb was simply too high.
On the first Los Angeles goal, Edson Buddle shed his marker and found himself wide open in front of goal. On the second, an unnecessary foul from Sanna Nyassi gave the Galaxy a free kick from a dangerous area. Once again, the marking was suspect as Omar Gonzalez found himself alone at the near post.
Those goals were preceded by an open header from Gonzalez in the sixth minute, an indication that the Sounders were living dangerously long before LA got on the board.
In a somber locker room, most players cleared out before reporters entered. One player who stayed to examine the match was Steve Zakuani, who scored Seattle’s only goal.
[inline_node:322024]Zakuani didn’t think his team improved on its performance in the first leg.
“Over 180 minutes, we didn’t do enough to go through, and that’s why we’re sitting here like this,” Zakuani said. “I think as the weeks go on and the months go on in the offseason, we’ll be able to look back and say we did some good stuff this season. But at the end of the day, we went out at the same stage we did last season. That’s going to hurt.”
Coming into the match, several things needed to break Seattle’s way. Arguably, none of them happened.
Seattle needed to keep a clean sheet and score first. A quick goal would have knotted the aggregate score line at 1-1 and given new life to this game, but Buddle’s 19th minute tally made that impossible.
The Sounders needed Nyassi to exploit the gaping speed mismatch against Eddie Lewis, but the Gambian could not and was subbed off at halftime in favor of Alvaro Fernandez.
“[For] a couple of guys on our team, the game was too big for them; it was too big an occasion,” Schmid said.
The Sounders battled for goals in the second half, but bowed out meekly in the end. The difference between the Sounders and the Galaxy, Schmid said, was that his team still needs to grow.
“We just have to become better,” Schmid said. “We have to become more experienced. We have to become hardened. We have to play with a discipline and a craftiness that LA have right now and we don’t have.”
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