CARSON, Calif. – The Sounders FC’s final match of the 2012 regular season was a game all about opportunities.
The Sounders and LA Galaxy finished the match statistically even in nearly every category, with the teams having the same number of shots (18) and shots on goal (4) and even passing accuracy (79%) while LA held the slightest of advantages in possession at 50.4%.
The only difference in the match was that Mike Magee scored on a late chance for the Galaxy while the Sounders were unable to finish theirs and Seattle dropped to 15-8-11 and third in the Western Conference with a 1-0 defeat.
“Obviously, you never want to lose a game by giving up a late goal like that,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It was a game tonight that could have easily been 6-6. There were chances for both teams. I think you saw two very good teams playing against each other - two good teams that have a lot of ability.”
With the loss the Sounders will now host Real Salt Lake in the first match of their Western Conference semifinal series on November 2 at CenturyLink Field before heading to Rio Tinto Stadium for the second leg on November 8.
The season series with Salt Lake included just one goal as the teams battled through their three matches and Sunday at the Home Depot Center was no different when the Sounders closed out the season against the Galaxy.
Things got out to a good start for the Sounders, as they earned a series of opportunities in and around the box when LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders was shown yellow for handling the ball outside the box in the fourth minute. However, Saunders was able to tip away Jeff Parke’s header to keep Seattle off the scoreboard.
LA controlled the run of play for the rest of the first half, but Seattle was able to match their scoring chances and in the 33rd minute, Fredy Montero got on the end of a ball from the left side, but his header clanged off the upright and the score remained knotted at 0-0 going into halftime.
The Sounders would lose two key players to injury just before and just after the half, though, as Eddie Johnson left in the 45th minute with a hamstring injury and Jeff Parke in the 51st minute as a precautionary measure.
The Galaxy weren’t about to let up and they came out firing to start the second half and Robbie Keane nearly put them in the lead in the 46th minute, but his shot from the left side would bounce wide of the far post to keep the Sounders hopes alive. It wasn’t the last time in the match that Keane would begin his goal celebration only to come up empty as his 53rd minute chip hit off the crossbar.
And for as many opportunities as LA had, Seattle came right back with chances of their own. In the 68th minute, Mauro Rosales made a run into the box and cut to his left foot, but his shot was tipped away by Saunders.
Finally, LA was able to grab the lead in the 83rd minute when second-half sub Mike Magee charged on a ball at the top of the box and ripped it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Seattle would have a chance to equalize in stoppage time, when Brad Evans put a shot away, but Montero was whistled for a handball and the Sounders finished with a 1-0 defeat.
“A little break here or there would have made a difference. We hit the post early on, and they hit the post later on with Keane. Fredy's header was clean in, Eddie had a couple opportunities before he came off,” Schmid said. “It is something that has to serve for us as motivation as we go into our next series of games”
The Sounders finish the season third in the Western Conference and seventh overall.
They will face Real Salt Lake for the second straight season. Last year, RSL opened the series with a 3-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium and the Sounders fought back with a 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field, but couldn’t find the equalizer in the aggregate goal series.
Tickets for Seattle's home match go on sale to the public on Monday, October 29 at 9 a.m. PT by visiting www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Sounders FC – None.
LA Galaxy – Mike Magee (Robbie Keane) 83.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90.
LA Galaxy – Josh Saunders (caution) 4; Marcelo Sarvas (caution) 90.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke (Zach Scott 51), Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 82), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans, Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 45).
LA Galaxy – Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin (Bryan Gaul 46), Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant, Christian Wilhelmsson, David Beckham (Marcelo Sarvas 62), Juninho, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle (Mike Magee 75), Robbie Keane.