There were a lot of frustrating things that happened in the Sounders 3-0 loss to the Galaxy on Sunday, and as Sounder at Heart points out, a lot of the playoff disaster came from tactical decisions that just didn't pan out.
It isn't all over for the Sounders. They still have the home leg of the game this upcoming Sunday, but it will be a steep hill to climb. The Sounders need to blank the Galaxy 3-0 just to push it to extra time. Anything less than that result and it's another exit from the playoffs for the rave green.
Head coach Sigi Schmid placed a goal of winning the central third of possession. To do so, he mixed the lineup around a bit and had players playing where they normally aren't accustomed. Schmid wanted to use possession as a defensive buffer, but as Dave Clark pointed out on Sounder at Heart, a team built like the Galaxy quickly negated whatever advantage that gave them:
But when a team has the quality long range service of one David Beckham, play of the central midfield can be skipped. He is a master at bypassing layers. His service was supplemented by Sean Franklin, so despite the Sounders holding a 56-44 possession edge, the L.A. Galaxy dominated where it mattered.
The Galaxy scored their first goal in added time of the first half and added a couple more pretty quickly in the second half. With forward Fredy Montero operating as a lone striker the odds of the Sounders catching up were pretty close to nil:
Montero is good. He can work magic, but too many of Seattle's crosses were to places where Fredy Montero was not. They were searching for the other forward and the central mids were not making the runs to make those crosses effective. Montero was regularly swarmed and lacked an outlet. His turnover (incomplete passes plus tackled for possession lost) rate was not the worst on the team, but it also was not up to his standards at 12 of 53 actions. It is hard for him to be magical with so few effective touches.
As Clark notes, it isn't all doom and gloom for the Sounders. They have scored three or more goals five times this season and the Galaxy had conceded three or more goals six times this season. The team will also have Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales and Leo Gonzalez back from injuries, which shouldn't force Schmid's hand to tinker with the lineup so much.
The Sounders have beaten the Galaxy 4-0 earlier this year, so it is possible for the team to pull out the win. But it is a very tough spot the Sounders have put themselves in to come out on top this Sunday.