SEATTLE– Some things never change. Robbie Keane takes the field against the Seattle Sounders and scores. The calendar turns to July and Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy start racking up wins. The Seattle Sounders end another game without finding the back of the net.
Keane provided all the scoring the Galaxy needed in just the 15th minute on Saturday afternoon, beating defender Joevin Jones to a short cross from a softly-marked Gyasi Zardes and slapping a left-footed shot off the crossbar and past goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Zardes had burned Zach Scott on the turn and fired the cross before Chad Marshall could close.
The Galaxy withstood a furious second-half onslaught from the Sounders to escape with a 1-0 win in front of 40,813 at CenturyLink Field.
It was Keane’s seventh goal in 10 career games against the Sounders, to go along with three assists. The Irish international also has six goals in just eight appearances this season.
The Galaxy (7-3-8, 29 points) have now won back-to-back matches after enduring a seven game winless stretch before topping the Vancouver Whitecaps on Monday.
For their part, the Sounders (5-10-2, 17 points) have lost six of eight league matches and now sit in the the Western Conference cellar. Another scoreless match leaves them with just 14 goals from 17 matches, worst in MLS.
Jordan Morris nearly equalized in the 53rd minute, streaking behind the Galaxy defense and getting past goalkeeper Brian Rowe, but A.J. DeLaGarza somehow cleared Morris’ 13-yard shot off the line. Just after the hour-mark Scott sent a header from the top of the 6-yard box directly to Rowe. In the 76th minute a Clint Dempsey header from just inside the penalty spot forced a fingertip save over the crossbar.
Chances continued to pile up down the stretch as the Sounders did everything but find the back of the net against a Galaxy defense that stuffed eight and even nine bodies in the penalty area.
Seattle outshot Los Angeles 22-7 on the day, but once again walked away empty-handed.
As has been the case so often this season, Seattle started the match on the front foot, couldn’t score, and gave up a goal against the run of play.
After falling behind, the Sounders were a team adrift for much of the half, unable to link passes in midfield, miscommunicating on defense, incapable of finding Nelson Valdez. Osvaldo Alonso and Erik Friberg struggled to develop a partnership in the heart of the park, Marshall and Joevin Jones gave the ball away in dangerous places, and Morris — so ascendant of late at forward– found himself shifted to the left flank and struggled to impact the match.
That all changed in the second half, especially after Oalex Anderson replaced Valdez and head coach Sigi Schmid shifted to a 4-4-2 with Dempsey and Morris next to each other up top. Nonetheless, chance after chance came up empty, as they have for much of 2016.
Looking forward, the Sounders host FC Dallas (11-5-4, 37 points) on Wednesday, while the Galaxy host the Houston Dynamo (4-8-6, 18 points) on Friday.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Robbie Keane, Slayer of Sounders. Seven goals and three assists in 10 matches against Seattle. He steps onto the pitch at CenturyLink Field and 40,000 throats tighten, awaiting the seemingly inevitable.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
DeLaGarza’s clearance. The Sounders avoided scoring in nearly every way imaginable: wide left, wide right, off the crossbar, over the crossbar, and directly at the goalkeeper. But no chance looked so sure as Morris’ shot early in the second half. A simple pass into the left- or right-hand side of the net and the Sounders equalize with plenty of time to take the lead. Instead Morris slapped a right-footed shot right at the Galaxy’s longest tenured player.
MATCH TO FORGET
Seattle’s back line, Tyrone Mears excepted. The Galaxy casually shredded the Sounders for the game’s only goal. Marshall committed an uncharacteristically sloppy turnover that probably leads to a second goal if Keane doesn’t go down softly in search of a penalty. Jones struggled in possession. Mears, on the other hand, submitted perhaps his best performance of the season, defending resolutely and threatening in attack all afternoon.