The Sounders FC is committed to an attacking, exciting style of play. The LA Galaxy, meanwhile, are an opportunistic team that are content to play to a draw.
Those two differing styles collided on Sunday afternoon and the Sounders had to settle for a 1-1 draw with a Mother’s Day crowd of 29,025 at Qwest Field.
Sebastien Le Toux scored his first MLS goal in the 22nd minute, but the Galaxy bounced back to tie the game, then took the air out of the ball. A second-half red card to James Riley in a melee in the midfield could have sealed the tie for LA. Seattle continued to press forward over the final 33 minutes, but couldn’t regain the lead and had to settle for the draw.
“It’s unfortunate. I take full responsibility. Obviously people have their different interpretations, but I’m disappointed that I let my team play (a man down) for 30 minutes when we let two points slip away,” Riley said. “On Mother’s Day you want to have a better result and I’m sure my next phone call to my mom she’ll have something to say.”
On a day when head coach Sigi Schmid found several calls and non-calls questionable, Riley’s ejection – the second for the Sounders in the last two games – epitomized his feelings on the game.
“I’m very proud of our team from the standpoint of playing a man down and still trying to go for the win, whereas, the opponent was a man up and they were very content to tie the game take it to 90 minutes,” Schmid said. “I’m very disappointed in the ejection and I’m disappointed in the refereeing.”
On the play, Gregg Berhalter was called for a foul 30 yards out just right of the 18-yard box. He held onto the ball as Seattle tried to set up for the free kick and as Riley tried to pull it away Berhalter stumbled to the ground. At that point, Mike Magee grabbed Riley by the back of the neck and as Riley shoved away from him, Magee fell to the ground.
“I never have intent to strike any player with my hands. He gave me a yellow and told me to back off, so I do,” Riley said. “Then it gets changed and I have to suck it up and take it on the chin.”
It was a frustrating game from the opening kick, as the Sounders continued an aggressive style of play while the Galaxy were content with a conservative mindset.
In the 22nd minute, Steve Zakuani played a ball forward to Nate Jaqua near the top of the box. Jaqua cut in front of LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and touched the ball off to Le Toux coming up the left side. With an open net in front of him, Le Toux calmly took a touch before shooting into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“It came wide and some space opened up so I made a through run. Steve played a good ball through and I saw Seba off to the left and Ricketts coming hard,” Jaqua said. “I was able to knock it off to him and Seba was able to put it in.”
Even scoring his first goal didn’t change Le Toux’s outlook on the tie.
“My only operative is to win games. If I score or I don’t score I want to win and take the three points,” he said. “It was nice for me to score my first goal in the MLS, but we didn’t win the game so there’s a bit of frustration.”
LA evened the score in the 35th minute when Magee drove in a cross from just outside the box on the left side. Alan Gordon got his head on it and flicked it to Kasey Keller’s left for the goal, evening the tally at 1-1.
“Their whole playing style all season has been to keep themselves close and in games and snag a goal here and there,” Schmid said. “They got a good cross and a good finish on a ball that we lost coming off the back that we probably shouldn’t have lost where we did.”
In the 45th minute, Seattle had an opportunity to recapture the lead when a ball was played to Jaqua in the box. He was dragged down from behind by Dema Kovalenko, but there was no call, leaving the Galaxy on the counter attack. Brad Evans was called for a foul on the play and was issued a yellow card after objecting to the no-call on the other end.
“When you’re playing a team like that that’s what you’re going to get. You’re going to get some shots here and there, but if you get denied those opportunities it’s going to be a long afternoon,” Schmid said.
In the second half, Seattle was aggressive, continuing to push forward, even while playing a man down, but the Galaxy used stall tactics to frustrate the Sounders and preserve the draw, their sixth of the season.
“After a red card it was a hard game, but I think we made it even. Unfortunately it’s a draw and we would have liked to have won the game,” Ljungberg said.
Seattle moves to 4-2-2 (14 points) while LA is 1-1-6 (9 points). Seattle’s next game is Saturday on the road against FC Dallas. Kickoff is set for 6:30.