2010 MLS – Game 12: LA GALAXY v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
In a mini-season like this one, in which only 7 regular season games will determine the playoffs, every game is do-or-die. In this rematch of the 2010 MLS Western Conference Semi-Finals (where LA knocked Seattle out of the playoffs on 2-0 aggregate), the Sounders were able to capitalize on two rare Landon Donovan mistakes in the first half and Kasey Keller’s strong second half play sealed the outcome.
There was no doubt heading into this match that LA had the stronger side. They had a +2 Team Rating and their Defensive Rating of 5 was intimidating. The Sounders played a midfield-heavy starting XI, but with scoring-minded midfielders Steve Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi pressing forward. This proved to be beneficial to the Seattle squad and maddening to LA.
Fredy Montero was around the ball all game until a nasty tackle sent him off in minute 67. With his goal and his all-around play he was heading for a man 0f the match award, but ultimately the award went to Osvaldo Alonso, who seemed to get every ball that wound up in the midfield.
LA was never out of the game. After their 81st minute strike to come within 1 goal of equalizing, they seemed to have the ball continuously until the match finally ended. The Galaxy were frustrated by Seattle’s defense, and especially by Keller’s outstanding play in goal.
Clutch points and a couple of house rules (rebounds to offensive team and consecutive passes) could have changed the outcome of the game in the 91st minute. Omar Gonzalez had a shot on goal saved in the 90th. The rebound to Area B was picked up by Landon Donovan. Donovan passes to Juninho in Area A. The next roll finds Juninho still in possession, now in Area C (that counts as a pass for the consecutive passes rule). At this point, due to the consecutive passes rule only requiring 2 passes from a possession that started in Area B (as this one did after the rebound), Juninho could’ve shot from here.
My consecutive passes rule doesn’t have a contingency for “what if the attacking team would rather spend clutch points to get closer to the goal?” I thought about it and realized that probably if they would’ve wanted to do that they should have not wasted that last roll – the one that got Juninho to Area C – because that was an opportunity where they may have lost the ball. I figured that if they wanted to waste that opportunity, that they were already penalized by chance and if they now decide to make a Clutch pass, they should be allowed to take it and should be allowed to take the automatic shot they could’ve earned 30 seconds earlier. That was my rationale at the time.
Buddle got the ball in Area A, shot on goal, but Keller’s save kept Seattle ahead. On the ensuing rebound Chad Birchall used LA’s remaining Clutch Points to get the ball to Landon Donovan in Area A, but time ran out before the Galaxy could make anything else happen.
As a Sounder at Heart, this was a satisfying victory for me personally.