2012 Season In Review: November
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
The Sounders went on to experience the club's most successful playoff run as it reached the Western Conference Championship but couldn't overcome a first leg deficit surrendered to the LA Galaxy.
Record: 2-1-1 in MLS Cup Playoffs.
Player of the Month: Michael Gspurning held Seattle together through the playoffs, saving 17 of the 21 shots on target against the vaunted offenses of Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy. One bad defensive stretch in the second half of the first leg against the LA Galaxy was the lone blemish for Gspurning, though he can hardly be blamed for the quick-strike, counter-attack goals. His 13 saves over two legs against Real Salt Lake were as instrumental as the smashing goal by Mario Martinez that sent them through to the Conference final.
The Matches: After battling to a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake for the third consecutive match, the Sounders finally broke through with their only goal in five matches against RSL, with Martinez providing the 81st minute goal to send the Sounders through to the Western Conference Championship. There, they fell behind 3-0 to the LA Galaxy in the first leg at The Home Depot Center and clawed their way back into the series with two goals at CenturyLink Field, but a second-half penalty for the Galaxy sealed the series win for Los Angeles, ending Seattle’s season just short of the MLS Cup final.
The Story: Already without Eddie Johnson in the first leg, the Sounders lost Mauro Rosales to a hamstring strain late in the match. The question became where the midfield spark would come from and Martinez proved up to the task. The bigger story in the series rested on the defensive side of the ball though.
Both goalkeepers came to play in the Conference Semifinal series against Real Salt Lake. While Nick Rimando stole headlines with his breathtaking stops in the first leg, Michael Gspurning hardly had an easy night at CenturyLink Field, coming up with four saves of his own to preserve the scoreless draw.
Salt Lake came back with a barrage of shots in the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium, but Gspurning continued to shine, with nine saves in the shutout victory as Martinez provided the late-game heroics to avoid overtime and a shootout, sending the Sounder to their first ever MLS Conference championship series.
There, they were victimized by Robbie Keane, who had three goals and an assist to lead the Galaxy to the MLS Cup final, where they would top the Houston Dynamo 3-1. Eddie Johnson and Zach Scott would score in the second leg, but Seattle couldn’t manage to overcome the deficit brought on in the first leg. Thus began their off-season as they quickly turned their attention to the 2013 season, the club’s fifth in Major League Soccer.