Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Los Angeles was a better result for Seattle beyond the obvious (that L.A. was playing at home).
Seattle, in first place and with a game or two in hand over the pursuers, can be OK with holding serve, especially in this one.
The Galaxy had more of the ball but didn’t necessarily have many more clear-cut scoring chances in a match with a helter-skelter pace. So, Sigi Schmid’s team can and will be far more pleased with Saturday’s outcome at the StubHub Center. In fact, about the only thing that went truly wrong for Seattle was Obafemi Martin’s hotheaded reaction when removed late in the match. That’s something Schmid may need to deal with.
A few more things we learned from this one:
- The Galaxy missed Landon Donovan more than Seattle missed Clint Dempsey
With Seattle’s good defensive work on Robbie Keane, the Galaxy attack was steady and marginally dangerous, but lacking in sharp edges.
That’s Landon Donovan, whose quick wits and quicker feet provide that added bit of spice around the penalty area, that added ability to combine in meaningful ways with Keane, the interplay that can break down the organized defenses.
(Remember late in the week when L.A. coach Bruce Arena said he expected Donovan to play against the Sounders? Yeah … well, Donovan didn’t even dress for Saturday’s contest.)
On the other side, Dempsey’s experience in these big games could possibly have helped the visitors, but Eddie Johnson and Martins have been in big games, too. And since Dempsey has yet to score for the Sounders, it’s hard to make a case that the U.S. international was sorely missed Saturday.
The Sounders can walk away from this one saying “We can get a result in a big one without Clint Dempsey.” Can L.A. say the same right now? Hmmmm…
- Eddie Johnson is stating his case
If Eddie Johnson (pictured above) wants a big, fat contract – he does, as we know, and Seattle management says the man deserves it – he is sure stating his case the right way.
Credit Sounders teammate Jhon Kennedy Hurtado with a great pick (illegal … but it happens) to help free up Johnson from his marker, U.S. international teammate Omar Gonzalez, on Seattle’s goal. But Johnson did his part, too, heading home with authority against the two-time champs.
In five starts since Dempsey was announced as the Sounders latest and greatest, Johnson has four goals. That’s a rate of production that says “Pay me!” See, if you score like that, you don’t have to actually say it.
- The Galaxy can still score on free kicks, after all
David Beckham is surely missed in many ways around the StubHub Center, starting in wow-wow factor, which has been significantly diminished around Galaxy Valley this year.
But they also miss his ability to swing that golden right foot on restarts. Landon Donovan can reliably deliver corner kicks, but the U.S. international doesn’t specialize in free kick shooting opportunities the way Beckham did. (Heck, no one does, really.)
So when Galaxy midfielder Juninho hit a beauty at the end of Saturday’s first half, getting the ball up and down over the Sounders wall just so, it was the first goal off a free kick for L.A. this year. (Lamar Neagle might have been just a wee bit late on his jump in the wall, but it was a still a highlight-worthy free kick.)
By the way, seeing as Juninho did hit such a sweet free kick, why did he defer twice in the second half to lesser restart takers? Left-footed free kicks from the right side make sense – but so does going with the best free kick striker of the moment, right?
- Steve Zakuani dresses for Seattle
Hard to say whether Sigi Schmid’s decision to dress winger Steve Zakuani had anything to do with Dempsey’s absence (due to a hamstring injury picked up in practice this week.) Either way, this was the first time Zakuani has made the game-day roster since April, when he underwent surgery to correct a sports hernia.