CARSON, California - The matchup at the Home Depot Center promised to be a thriller when the streaking Sounders FC met the top-of-the-table LA Galaxy in an Independence Day clash.
From the opening minutes to the final whistle, it didn’t lack for excitement with all the drama and exhilaration expected of the clash, despite the final 0-0 score line.
Fredy Montero earned an early penalty and goalkeeper Brian Perk, making his first career MLS start for the Galaxy, stepped up to make the save. Midway through the second half, Kasey Keller tipped away a screamer from Juan Pablo Angel, getting his fingertips to the ball to deflect it ever-so-slightly away from the net.
The two teams, well-versed in the strengths of their opposition, had several near chances throughout the night and the Sounders looked for one final grasp at the three points when Osvaldo Alonso was fouled just outside the box on the right side in stoppage time. Tyson Wahl bent the free kick to Jeff Parke at the far post, but put it just outside the frame and Parke couldn’t get it back into the danger area and the match ended with the scoreless draw.
“It was an exciting game, obviously there were a couple of things that could have influenced the game Kasey Keller makes a big save at the end there on Angel, Fredy Montero misses a penalty kick,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Those are key plays that could change the game.”
Seattle had a chance to take an early lead when Montero attempted a bicycle kick in the box in the 17th minute and Omar Gonzalez defended the shot whit a handball, drawing a penalty for the Sounders. Montero stepped to the mark, but Perk dove to his right to block Montero’s shot and the match remained scoreless.
“I tried shooting it close to the post but I shot it short and he guessed right and blocked it,” Montero said.
The Sounders remained in control for much of the match, but could still only manage two shots on goal, leaving Perk largely untested in his MLS debut outside of the penalty kick.
After Seattle dominated many facets of the first half, the second half had a more even start, though the Galaxy had the first two opportunities to unknot the tie. Landon Donovan got his head to a long pass that bounced high past the Sounders defense, but his shot fell softly into the hands of Keller for his first save of the night in the 50th minute.
Then in the 56th minute, Donovan sent a ball across the goal mouth for Todd Dunivant, but his attempt to go back across the goal missed outside the far post, the scramble resulting in a goal kick.
Even with Keller’s save of Angel in the 68th minute, the momentum shifted back to Seattle over the final 30 minutes, with the Sounders out-shooting the Galaxy 7-2 in the final half-hour.
“I thought we did alright. I thought the first half was good for us. I thought the second half there was a period of time where they definitely controlled the game,” Schmid said. “At the end of the game I thought we did alright and we got ourselves back in the game.”
The draw runs the Sounders FC’s unbeaten streak to seven matches (4-0-3) and five straight (2-0-3) away from CenturyLink Field. It was Keller’s sixth shutout of the season, giving him 273 straight scoreless minutes on the road.
It also put a stop to Seattle’s five match losing streak in MLS play against the Galaxy.
“They are a good team,” Keller said. “They have the most points in the league there is a reason for that and we came here and game them a good game.”
The Sounders moved to 8-4-8 (32 points), trailing only the Galaxy (9-2-9, 36 points) in the MLS standings. Seattle will head to Portland for the second leg of the Cascadia Derby with the Portland Timbers on Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field. The nationally televised game on ESPN2 will kickoff at 1 pm. The Sounders will also meet the Galaxy again next week in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at Starfire. Tickets go on sale for the match Wednesday morning at 10 am on www.SoundersFC.com.
Sounders FC - None.
LA Galaxy - None.
Sounders FC - Erik Friberg (caution) 55.
LA Galaxy - Landon Donovan (caution) 94+.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 92+), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan 71), Fredy Montero (Brad Evans 61), Roger Levesque.
LA Galaxy - Brian Perk, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez (Bryan Jordan 79), AJ Delagarza (Gregg Berhalter 24), Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, Mike Magee (David Beckham 69), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett.