SEATTLE– When you’re hot, all the breaks seem to fall your way. The LA Galaxy — perhaps the hottest team in MLS — were thoroughly outplayed for most of Sunday afternoon’s match against the Seattle Sounders, but took advantage of a single mistake to leave the Emerald City with a 1-1 draw in front of 48,458 at CenturyLink Field.
With the Galaxy (9-3-9, 36 points) trailing 1-0 in the 78th minute, second-half substitute Sebastian Lletget equalized thanks to a miscommunication between defender Brad Evans and goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Steven Gerrard sent a nice chip into the heart of the area that should have been fairly easily handled. But Evans let the ball pass to Frei, who assumed his center back would make the clearance. The pass eventually bounced to the far post, where a lurking Lletget redirected the ball into the back of the net to tie the score 1-1.
In the locker room after the match, Evans said he thought he heard Frei call him off, but must have heard a Galaxy player instead.
The Galaxy are now 4-0-1 in their last five, a streak that has scooted them into third place in the Western Conference standings.
Robbie Keane, silent most of the afternoon, nearly gave the visitors the lead in stoppage time, slipping behind the Sounders’ back line to track down a through ball over the top. Keane’s shot beat Frei, but center back Chad Marshall raced behind his goalkeeper to clear the ball off the line.
After outplaying the Galaxy for the first 45 minutes, the Sounders (6-12-3, 21 points) opened the scoring just minutes into the second half.
In the 49th minute, Cristian Roldan received a pass from Nelson Valdez at the top of the area and ripped an 18-yard shot through traffic and past goalkeeper Brian Rowe for the 1-0 lead. Valdez, relentless in the hour he was on the pitch, initially gathered a loose ball in the heart of the area and maintained possession under duress before laying off a ball for Roldan.
Newly inked Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro, stellar throughout the match, nearly put the Sounders back on top twice in the final five minutes of regular time, sending a volley into the side-netting before unleashing a deflected shot from 20 yards out that forced Rowe into a diving save.
The hosts controlled possession and created by far the better chances in the first half. In just the eighth minute, Lodeiro received a pass in space just outside the area, deftly slipping defenders and ripping a left-footed shot toward Rowe. Moments later Valdez tracked down a loose ball at the penalty spot but could never cleanly gather, only mustering a soft backheel easily that failed to seriously challenge the goalkeeper.
The best chances of the half came in the 34 minute, as a short-range shot from Jordan Morris deflected off defender Daniel Steres and Clint Dempsey’s follow-up off the rebound caromed off center back Jelle Van Damme at the goal line.
Looking forward, both teams are back in action next weekend. The Galaxy visit the New York Red Bulls, while the Sounders visit Orlando City SC.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Lodeiro. The Sounders thoroughly outplayed the Galaxy all afternoon, in large part thanks to the calming influence, work rate, and obvious intelligence of their latest big-name signing.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Seattle’s defensive miscommunication, obviously. Seattle missed numerous opportunities to build a 2-0 lead, but did enough to secure all three points.
MATCH TO FORGET
Morris. The rookie out of Stanford is delivering a stellar debut campaign, but missed more than one golden chance to find the back of the net.