Sigi Schmid is looking like a genius right now, as his Brad Evans for Marco Pappa substitution again provided the difference in Seattle’s now-successful bid for its first Supporters Shield.
A quick restart with just minutes to play allowed Obafemi Martins to find Pappa, who blasted an open shot past Jaime Penedo to lift the CenturyLink Field crowd into a state of euphoria.
Pappa added another deep into stoppage time, and the Sounders won 2-0 in a match where a tie would’ve been enough, and the scenes and sounds on NBC were note of soccer’s fever pitch in Seattle.
Seattle will have home field throughout the playoffs.
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The match lost a little luster when it was announced that Robbie Keane would miss the match with a hamstring problem. Couple that with Omar Gonzalez’s red card last week in California, and L.A. was down two key men.
In fact the game for a while resembled L.A.’s loss at FC Dallas a couple weeks back, with the Galaxy controlling the ball but lacking that finishing touch.
A sleepy game for over an hour, Seattle and L.A. used the last half-hour to stage a contest worthy of a trophy-winning event.
A strong run from Landon Donovan as the clock struck 50 forced Zach Scott into a yellow card and gave L.A. a free kick from 20 yards out. Stefan Ishizaki’s free kick deflected off the wall to give the Galaxy a corner, and the Swede’s attempt was cleared by Seattle.
Robbie Rogers and Brad Evans got into a bit of a tussle after Rogers took the ball away from the Seattle defender and forced a foul out of Evans. The ensuing deep free kick led to nothing, as Ishizaki was offsides.
Zardes gave the game it’s best moment with a dribble and curling drive in the 69th minute, but it swirled wide of the post. Seattle had parked the bus, and Bruce Arena did not send too many men forward. Was this respect for Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Seattle’s dangerous counter?
It wouldn’t matter.
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Moments later there was a heavy shoving match that featured more pushes and punches than the game had seen scoring chances. Gonzalo Pineda and Marcelo Sarvas were shown yellows, and AJ DeLaGarza and Osvaldo Alonso could’ve easily seen caution or worse.
But that was how Mark Geiger called the match, and he was consistent. Say what you will about that!
Sigi Schmid then tried doubling down on a substitution that helped Seattle come back last week in Carson, inserting Pappa for Evans in the 73rd minute.
Donovan earned a dangerous free kick in the 80th minute, but Frei collected a ball that pin balled through a few players and toward the goal line.
That’s when Pappa struck, leaving zero doubt with his strike inside the 18.
Substitute Alan Gordon almost made it interesting with an 89th minute tally, but missed the in-close opportunity. He was then stopped by Frei at the outset of three minutes of stoppage time.
Pappa added another when he stripped Jaime Penedo and lofted a ball into the goal. A fancy scoop to cap a Shield-winning day.
Seattle Sounders: Frei, Yedlin, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez, Evans (Pappa, 73′), Alonso, Pineda, Neagle, Dempsey (Traore, 90+4′), Martins
Goal: Pappa 2 (85′, 90+4′)
Los Angeles Galaxy: Penedo; Gargan (Villarreal, 88′), DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Rogers; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Husidic (Gordon, 87′), Donovan, Zardes