Photo by Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports Images
By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
Carson, Calif. — The LA Galaxy trotted out their new star-studded starting lineup for the first time, and it delivered with a dominating 3-1 win against a struggling Seattle Sounders before a sold-out crowd of 27,000 at the Stub Hub Center.
Two club veterans, Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane, netted for the home side to give the Galaxy the lead they never relinquished.
But it was the Galaxy’s third and final goal that brought the largest roar from the crowd, when newly signed Designated Player Giovani Dos Santos was sent in behind the Sounders back line with a flawless Robbie Keane through ball. The wide open Mexican international easily beat a helpless Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei with a low left-footed strike in the 64th minute to open his MLS account.
“I feel very happy. It was a difficult game. But the team did a great job, and I am happy for my goal, and for the victory of the team,” said Dos Santos in his post game news conference. “We have great players, with Stevie, with Juninho, they can pass the ball to me. We create a lot of chances. For me it’s easy to play with a team like this.”
It was not all sunshine for the Galaxy, however, as they opened the match by surrendering a goal in the first minute of play. Former Galaxy striker Chad Barrett, now a regular in the Sounders lineup since the injury to Obafemi Martins, split the napping Galaxy center backs and poked home a perfect Eric Friberg cross to give Seattle an unexpectedly early lead.
Zardes’ equalizer came in the 13th minute, when Juninho corralled a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and lobbed it forward toward the Sounders goal post. Zardes ran onto the dropping ball and rolled it underneath the sprawling Frei with the outside of his foot.
Keane gave the Galaxy the lead when he gathered a close pass from Dos Santos and struck the ball home from inside the six yard box. The assist was also a first for Dos Santos, and the goal was Keane’s 11th in all competitions this season.
“AJ [DeLaGarza] down the wing put a good ball into Gio, and Gio’s touch to me was good” said Keane about his goal. “once we got that goal, I think it was game over. The way we played, the way we moved the ball, we were very very good.”
The conditions were difficult for both sides today. Despite the fact that the Galaxy play on one of the better natural grass surfaces in North America, on field temperatures in the bright California sun approached 100º.
“Even though I’ve been here for five years, I’m still not used to this hot weather” laughed Keane after the match. “It was tough at times, but we pushed through. At least it’s not Houston.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena concurred, while also suggesting that games be scheduled to avoid the conditions from playing a factor.
“I applaud both teams,” Arena said. “We shouldn’t be playing games at 1 o’clock in the afternoon in the summer months. This was really challenging for the players, and for our team to concede a goal early, and have to fight back in these conditions, it’s pretty good.”
In a strange twist of fate, Barrett went down with an injury immediately after scoring the Sounders’ only goal and had to come out of the game. Replays were inconclusive, but it appeared Barrett may have injured a hamstring while celebrating his early strike.
In addition to the loss of Barrett, the Sounders were without either of their first choice strikers, Martins and Clint Dempsey. Martins has been out for almost two months now with a groin strain, and Dempsey now appears to be dealing with a hamstring. Without any of their top three strikers, the Sounders attack was toothless, managing only six shots on the day.
The Sounders have now lost five games in a row. They will try to heal their wounds at home on Sunday, Aug. 16, against surging Orlando City SC.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, will take their star-studded show on the road. They will face FC Dallas in Texas on Saturday, Aug. 15.