Drilling down on: at Seattle Sounders 2, LA Galaxy 0

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Man of the Match: For Seattle, it had to be one of the goal scorers, and when one for the scores was this bad boy, few would begrudge Fredy Montero tonight’s champagne bottle.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • We knew Los Angeles was going to be without David Beckham and Robbie Keane. They also started without Edson Buddle and Mike Magee , though the two regular saw time in the second half.
  • Bruce Arena was clearly willing to let these points go. While there were a few very mild hints throughout the first third of the match that LA could get to full time without giving up a goal, this is the result you would have expected.
  • The main hint these teams could end drawn: Both sides were playing near-identical 4-4-2 formations that created mildly stoic individual matchups all across the field, with the exception of the free deep midfielders. Juninho and Osvaldo Alonso gave each team an extra man in defense, so for much of the first 40 minutes you got the feeling the match could end a stalemate if neither team adjusted.
  • There were two ways that could have changed. Arena or Sigi Schmid could change up how they had configured their midfield, so the Landon Donovan-Mauro Rosales matchup could break the match.
  • Eventually that matchup became decisive. On Eddie Johnson’s opening goal, Donovan was lax in closing down Rosales, who put in a perfect cross for Johnson, matched up against the smaller A.J. De La Garza. A nice finish from Johnson and Seattle had the opener against a team that was going to rely on counter attacking soccer.
  • Donovan was in a bad spot, forced out to left midfield. It’s not that we’ve never seen him out there or he’s incapable of playing that spot, but with Arena needing to move Sean Franklin into midfield, there was really no other place to play his captain, given the XI chosen. That matched him up with Rosales. With hindsight, you can’t help but wonder if Donovan should have been moved to forward while Michael Stephens or Magee started in midfield.
  • Michael Gspurning left the game at halftime, the broadcast team speculating that a hip injury had tightened up, potentially because of a lack of activity. He was replaced by Bryan Meredith, leaving Alonso as the only Sounder to have played every minute this season.
  • Speaking of announcers, Bruce Arena’s choice to start an “experimental”, “makeshift” team dominated the broadcast. Even deep into the game, the broadcasters’ incredulity never waned. I understand that two hours is a lot of time to fill, but this wasn’t that big of a story. Yeah, it’s disappointing, but it’s also open the broadcast and move on disappointing. We’ve seen Arena do this in recent years. Agree with his decision or not, but there is a logic behind it. He decided to drive 10 miles under the speed limit to save some gas.
  • That should not detract from Seattle’s performance. Whatever team is put out there, you still have to execute, and we’ve seen Arena steal points over the last couple of years with exactly this type of decision. The two Seattle goals were beautifully taken, giving them three points from a team that had owned them.
  • Rosales had an injury scare in the second half, pulling up on a movement toward the middle before he took time to stretch. He walked around tentatively for a few minutes while play continued, though the recently-returned attacker would play about 15 more minutes before coming off.
  • With the win, Seattle moves into third place in the West still having played fewer matches than the rest of the conference. LA stays seventh and have now lost four of their eight games to date.