Drilling down on: at Seattle 4, LA Galaxy 0

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Man of the Match: He started the scoring and was involved in Seattle’s other two goals. Eddie Johnson made himself the easy choice, though LA Galaxy gave him some help. Los Angeles started the Omar Gonzalez, David Junior Lopes, and Bryan Gaul in defense, a trio that could do little to prevent Johnson from using his speed to tear through them. On the first and third goals, Johnson’s speed broke the game open.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • From the opening kickoff, it looked like Seattle’s transition into attack was going to give the Galaxy problems. In the beginning, it was Johnson carrying the ball out of the Sounder end off LA corner kicks, but even in open play (when LA vacated the middle by sending David Beckham wide right), Seattle make the Galaxy look vulnerable.
  • It only took six minutes for that vulnerability to give Seattle the lead. Seattle quickly built down their right side, with Johnson eventually heading home his 10th goal of the year. The details:
    • The main part of the movement started with Mauro Rosales on the ball in the middle of the park. Osvaldo Alonso moved into space on the right, received Rosales’ pass and drew left back Bryan Gaul to him.
    • Rosales made a run into the vacated space, with Gaul slow reacting to the move. When Alonso played the ball forward, it forced left-center half David Junior Lopes out to try to defend against the cross.
    • That left Omar Gonzalez¬†one-on-one with Johnson, who had his choice of spaces to run into. He went near post, with Gonzalez having little chance to keep up.
    • A perfect cross from Rosales was redirected into the left side of goal, giving Seattle an early lead.
  • With the goal, Seattle became the third team for whom Johnson’s scored double-digit goals in a season.
  • The goal was also Johnson’s league-leading seventh headed score of the season.
  • For the middle part of the first, LA controlled possession, but with their monotonous attack, they never really threatened.
  • Monotonous may seem a harsh word to use, but the Galaxy did the same thing nearly very time the got the ball: Look for David Beckham, see where he plays the ball (usually into the middle of the defense), react.
  • Sometimes Beckham would do this from deep midfield, in the attacking phase it would be from the right, but it was always the same (even if Beckham was rather clever while doing it).
  • This approach led to a subtle moment of comedy in the 44th minute, though it was hardly noticeable. Coming out of their own end, Beckham played to A.J. DeLaGarza on the right and then bent down to tie his shoe. DeLaGarza trapped the ball, looked to play back to Beckham, then hesitated, seeing Beckham wasn’t available. He paused for a moment, unsure what to do, before dribbling forward, instinctively developing a back up plan for when Beckham’s not available.
  • Toward the end of the first half, Seattle started driving forward again, creating some momentum for the start of the second. At the hour mark, that momentum built into a Fredy Montero goal, with Johnson and Alex Caskey playing a part in the build up.
  • Caskey was rewarded for his strong night with the third goal (his first in MLS), chipping into the net from 30-plus yards out. Josh Saunders had come way of his line to punch a ball away from Johnson after the Seattle striker dribbled around LA’s defense.
  • Andy Rose, a late substitute, completed the rout in the 89th minute, joining Caskey in scoring his first MLS goal.
  • Credit to Sigi Schmid (sure to be thrilled with Rose’s goal), who put in an excellent plan to attack the Galaxy. The approach was so good, you wonder if it will force Bruce Arena to chance how LA attacks:
    • LA’s become used to Beckham drifting right in their attacking phase, positioned as a right back while the right sided players push up the wing.
    • While this happens, the left-sided midfielder will come in while Landon Donovan pinches under Robbie Keane.
    • If Juninho goes forward (as he did often in Sunday’s early moments), the midfield is left vacant.
    • With Montero and Rosales, Seattle had two players who could attack that area. Add in players like Alonso and Caskey rushing to support and LA was far too vulnerable as play transitioned out of Seattle’s end.
    • While it helps when you have the likes of Montero and Rosales, this is an approach that any team can employ: Wait for Beckham to drift right, then burst at LA’s slow defense.
  • Christian Tiffert, Seattle’s newest designated player, made his debut after the match was settled, by which time LA’s defense was too discouraged to provide a meaningful test. The only question left over the match’s final minutes was how bad the score was going to get.
  • For Seattle, it may have been their best performance of the season, though the specific matchup advantages they had against the Galaxy limits how much we should make of the result. Even with those advantages, a 4-0 is incredibly impressive, with Seattle joining Houston as this weekend’s standout performers.
  • For LA, it was the worst defeat of the Bruce Arena era, one which should take them back to the drawing board. There’s no reason to panic, with the Galaxy still firmly in a playoff position, but they can’t expect to get far this postseason with a team set up like this.