Los Angeles Galaxy beat Seattle Sounders 2-1 tonight, and 3-1 on aggregate, to advance in the MLS playoffs. The Galaxy will face FC Dallas in the Western Conference final, with the winner of that match moving on to the final.
Edson Buddle opened the scoring for Los Angeles, heading on a David Beckham corner kick. Just eight minutes later, a foul from Sanna Nyassi earned the Galaxy a free kick, and this time it was Omar Gonzalez who headed David Beckham's delivery past Kasey Keller and into the net.
Seattle still looked lifeless in the last twenty minutes of the half, although they were at least able to generate a bit of pressure. After the break, however, the Sounders looked a different team entirely. Helped by the replacement of Nyassi with Alvaro Fernandez, the visiting side quickly applied pressure on the Galaxy, pressure that had been entirely absent for the first 135 minutes of play. Rather than simply booting the ball upfield, Seattle attacked the Los Angeles goal again and again, exploiting in particular the right side of the pitch, where Fernandez was able to control the ball before directing perfectly placed shots to the center.
Seattle's pressure paid off with just four minutes of time left. Nate Jaqua held off the Galaxy defense long enough to slip the ball through to Steve Zakuani, who neatly turned around Omar Gonzalez to take a shot on goal. Although Los Angeles keeper Donovan Ricketts, who was awarded MLS Goalkeeper Of The Year earlier this week, managed to get his hands on the ball, it flew through his fingers and into the net.
Too little, too late for the Sounders, though, as their season once again comes to an end after just one round of MLS playoffs. While Seattle likely needs to take a hard look at the way its squad played for the first three halves of the matches against L.A., both the team and supporters should find solace in the last 45 minutes. That's when the Sounders showed what they are truly capable of, and that they have a solid foundation to build upon for next season.