We’re through 45 minutes of the Western Conference Championship second leg matchup between the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy, and the tables have turned 180 degrees from where we were three-quarters of an hour ago.
A pair of goals in quick succession has the Sounders ahead 2-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate. The Galaxy, however, need only a goal in the second half to make life tough on the Sounders. Thanks to the away-goals rule, at this point any series draw would put the Galaxy through to MLS Cup 2014 based on MLS’s new tie-breaking mechanism.
The first 20 minutes of action actually saw very little action. Both sides — but especially the Sounders — struggled to string more than two passes together and create anything beyond speculative shots from 30 yards out.
Once both teams settled down, the quality of soccer improved and the chances began to flow.
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The game’s first big chance resulted in the game’s first goal in the 26th minute. Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, with plenty of defensive help in front of him, rushed off his line to close down an onrushing Clint Dempsey whose tame effort on goal was blocked at the near post, but trickled across the face of goal to a waiting Brad Evans who had the entirety of the goalmouth to aim at from two yards out.
Penedo’s nightmare continued just six minutes later with the blunder of the season (below video) that may have just cost the Galaxy any hope of hosting their third MLS Cup final in four years. Omar Gonzalez‘s poorly cleared cross fell to Dempsey at the top of the 18-yard box and the Nacogdoches, Texas, native was quick to have a first-time shot. Dempsey’s shot came in low and fairly tame once again but took perhaps a slight deflection off Gonzalez eight yards from goal, crossing up Penedo who went to his right initially and couldn’t scramble back to his left to do more than palm the ball into his own goal.
The goal was credited to Dempsey, his first playoff goal since signing for the Sounders in August 2014 and his first for any team since 2005 (New England Revolution).
Robbie Keane nearly gave the Galaxy their series-tying goal in the 37th minute when he curled a shot destined for the inside of the far post, only to see an outstretched Stefan Frei make the spectacular save.
45 minutes to go at CenturyLink Field. Again, a Galaxy goal changes this thing in a big, big way.