CARSON, Calif. – A nagging quadriceps injury has limited the effectiveness of Christian Wilhelmsson as of late, but the Swedish international gave a full account of his skills in LA’s 3-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Championship First Leg.
During his 77 minute stint, Wilhelmsson shined on both sides of the ball, his movement and willingness to track back on defense helped LA in the first half while in the second half, the Swede got more involved in the attack, providing an assist on LA’s third goal of the night. When the night was over, Wilhelmsson’s finished with 29 of 33 passes completed –including 11 for 11 in the final third— six tackles won and two passes intercepted along with an assist on LA’s final goal of the night.
WATCH: Wilhelmsson gets assist on Keane's goal
But Wilhelmsson’s own assessment of his performance called for more improvement.
“Yes,” Wilhelmsson said agreeing with a question that described Sunday as his best showing in MLS, “It still wasn’t good enough, if you ask me.”
Just why wasn’t it good enough? Perhaps it was because Wilhelmsson wasn’t able to find the back of the net for the second straight game after creating numerous scoring opportunities. Wilhelmsson probably should have gotten credit for LA’s third goal as his flick beat Seattle’s Michael Gspurning, only for forward Robbie Keane to pounce, poking the ball into the back of the net to assure that it could not be cleared off the line.
Following the match, even captain Landon Donovan admitted that “he felt Christian scored a goal” but even though Wilhelmsson surely would have liked to score his first goal since his LA debut back in September, he was pleased with the offensive effort that LA showed.
“It was on its way in, but it’s OK, as long as we win 3-0,” said Wilhelmsson with a smile. “You have to be there, you have to be involved and you have to create chances as much as you can, and that’s what I tried to do and it went well today.”
The most important reason for Wilhelmsson’s success on defense and in the attack was his effective partnership with right back Sean Franklin. Together, the two consistently overlapped using their speed and crossing ability to cause a great deal of havoc for Seattle’s left sided duo of Alex Caskey and Zach Scott.
Key to their bombardment of Seattle was their distribution as the pair completed nearly 85 percent of their passes (122 of 144) including 19 of 22 of passes in the final third.
“We haven’t played too many games together, but that’s the reason why we have training, to get used to each other,” said Franklin. “We linked up well [Sunday], I thought our whole team did well. We passed the ball well, the team was moving, everyone was buzzing. There was something special about this.”
As LA look to the decisive second leg at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, they’ll likely need more of the same to assure their place in MLS Cup 2012.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com