The Seattle Sounders entered Monday night's game at the Home Depot Center looking to take advantage of goalkeeper Brian Perk, a 21-year-old rookie making his first MLS start. Instead, Perk was the hero for the Galaxy, becoming just the second keeper in history to record his first MLS save on a penalty attempt after turning aside Fredy Montero's 18th minute attempt and making several other fine stops to keep the Sounders off the board. His opposite number Kasey Keller had quite the evening as well, getting his fingertips to a curled Juan Pablo Angel effort in the 68th minute and deflecting it just enough to send it into the post. Keller got some help from the Galaxy however, with Angel and several of his teammates making a mess of solid chances while the Sounders were forced to try and put in long-range efforts due to an organized and tenacious LA defense.
The scoreline might have ended 0-0, but this was far from a staid, negative affair. Rather it was a solid performance from both sides, certainly dominated by high quality goalkeeping and defensive play but not without creative and dangerous attacking play. The tactical battle between Sigi Schmid and Bruce Arena was an interesting one, with each making adjustments that led to discernible shifts in the run of play. The Sounders will likely feel as though they had the better of things, but a tie was a fair result and ultimately a positive one for the Sounders. There's reason to be encouraged by the Sounders performance, as well as the tactical approach of Sigi Schmid; most teams in MLS come into the HDC with a tie as the goal, but Seattle were quite clearly going after the win until somewhere around the 80th minute as the Galaxy began to more consistently break down Seattle's defense and threaten Keller's goal. Even after the Sounders shift to a deeper, more bunkered defense they were still able to create solid chances and the last touch of the game was a Tyson Wahl free kick from just outside the box.
It's frustrating that a win wasn't forthcoming despite some excellent chances for the Sounders, but the positives far outweigh the negatives in this instance. Seattle put in an excellent performance against one of the league's best teams in hostile territory, keeping themselves well within range of contention with just two league games to play before the open of the transfer window. The Sounders are four points ahead of their total through 20 games, with the added benefit of the Galaxy not having taken an insurmountable lead at the top of the table as well as an extra four games to close the gap. Seattle is far better prepared to take a run at the top of the table than they were at this point last season, and results such as these are a big part of the reason why.
The big games keep on coming with Seattle taking on the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday and hosting the Colorado Rapids the following Saturday. The Sounders should reasonably expect to take six points from those two games, and if they can do so they will at the very least keep pace with the Galaxy, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. Things are starting to get pretty interesting in the Western Conference; by the time August rolls around it may very well be a madhouse and the Sounders have put themselves in a position to be right in the mix.