One game, 100 words (or less): Unfortunately for Sounders’ fans, Seattle’s ability to inexplicably collapse is alive and well, with Monday’s performance against the Galaxy exposing the same fragility that’s undermined the last three postseasons. Scoring three times in the first 36 minutes, LA became the latest team to contribute to Seattle’s psychosis, with the Galaxy’s 3-0 win asserting the four-time champions as MLS Cup contenders. Along the way, the Sounders provided new reason to believe the juggernaut can be derailed.
LA Galaxy: Zardes 8′, Donovan 18′, Ishizaki 36′
Three moments that mattered:
1′ – A lights out start – Shortly after kickoff, ESPN’s feed fails, though through the wonders of social media, we quickly learn it wasn’t the broadcaster’s start. When the broadcast resumes, Adrian Healey explains a power surge knocked out the electricity at CenturyLink field. Seven minutes later, fans were left wishing the lights had stayed off.
36′ – The last salvo – Donovan had set up the first and scored the second, but in the 36th minute, it was Stefan Ishizaki that finished deflating the Sounders. With LA in transition off a Gonzalo Pineda turnover, Ishizaki was given an open crack from 18 yards out, beating Stefan Frei inside the far post to end the night’s scoring. Nine minutes before halftime, the Western Conference leaders were down 3-0, at home.
90′ – A merciful end – When LA opened the second half with all of its pre-break momentum, the match was basically over. Seattle didn’t even register its first shot on target until the 59th minute, reaching full-time without ever truly mounting a charge. For all intents and purposes, the game ended in the 36th minute, when Ishizaki confirmed LA’s early outburst was more than a fast start.
Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Dylan Remnick (Michael Ariza 81′); Marco Pappa (Tristan Bowen 65′), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Lamar Neagle (Chad Barrett 45′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
LA Galaxy: Jaime Penedo; Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers; Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 78′), Landon Donovan; Gyasi Zardes (Kenney Walker 90′), Robbie Keane
Three lessons going forward:
1. Chad Marshall may be the league’s most important defender … because without him, the Sounders were terrible. The Seattle All-Star was scratched from the lineup with back spasms after his car was rear-ended earlier today. Seattle not only missed his play at right-center back but also missed the composure he provides to the group. Without him, the Sounders’ lacked somebody willing to assert himself, leading the back four to be picked apart of the first 45 minutes.
2. LA responded to themselves – In the lead up to Monday’s game, the talk out of Los Angeles seemed unduly dramatic, with the team referencing the Supporters’ Shield to hype its trip to Seattle. It was the Galaxy’s way to making this into a big game, one that would test them in the wake of a flat performance in Kansas City. Obviously, LA responded with flying colors.
3. This is not a one-off – Nights like this are part of the reason Seattle considered moving away from Sigi Schmid last December. Now, with the New England and Galaxy performances in the books, it’s apparent the Sounders’ penchant for collapse has not waned. This is part of their DNA – a trait that could resurface in the postseason.
So if you’re general manager Adrian Hanauer or owner Joe Roth, what do you do? Just hope that these blowouts are aberrations, even though recent history suggests they’re not? Or do you get proactive?
You wait and hope. Changing mid-stream is not going to happen, but if Seattle has another collapse this postseason, Schmid’s almost certainly done. Every doubt that led to his job being reconsidered this offseason will resurface after tonight’s performance.
Where this leaves them:
- With 38 points, Seattle is still first in the West, tied for Kansas City at the top of the league, with two games in hand on MLS Cup’s holders.
- The Galaxy are still eight back of the Sounders, and while they have a match in hand, they still need to go on a run to truly be considered Supporters’ Shield contenders.