What we learned from the Sounders-Galaxy first leg

Despite the result, a lot can be taken from the Sounders defeat in Los Angeles heading into the second leg of the Western Conference Championship

It’s been a hectic week for the Sounders FC. Coming off a dramatic 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Thursday to win the Western Conference Semifinal series 1-0 on aggregate, the Sounders took to The Home Depot Center on Sunday for the first leg of the Western Conference Finals against the LA Galaxy and experienced quite a let-down.

After a 3-0 defeat, the Sounders FC had plenty of lessons to take out of the contest.

Robbie Keane must be stopped

For 45 minutes of the match on Sunday, Keane was not a threat. He got the ball plenty of times, but frequently was pressured into poor passes and had the ball taken from him on several other occasions. Once he got on the scoreboard in first-half stoppage time, his confidence level changed greatly and he was a force of nature in the second half, adding another goal to boost his post-season total to four goals in four playoff matches this year.

“We were tight on him and we were able to put pressure on him,” defender Jeff Parke said. “In the second half, it seemed like he had tons of time right at the top of the box and they could just go right through us. It wasn’t easy. We didn’t do the job tonight.”

Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but scoring is judge and jury

Statistically, the Sounders were very good in the game against the Galaxy. They won 60% of the duels. They had an 83% success rate passing the ball. And they held possession for 56.4% of the match. However, the Galaxy outshot the Sounders 13-7 and were able to get seven of those shots on target as they used the counter-attack to take advantage of their talented forward tandem of Keane and Landon Donovan to nab the three goals.

“We were still possessing the ball and still getting some looks going forward and we got caught on the counter,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s difficult. When they’ve got the speed of Landon, the speed of Keane and the creativity they possess, they’re a team that’s very dangerous.”

There is still a lot of soccer to be played in this series

The Sounders are hopeful and optimistic heading into the second leg. But don’t take their word for it when they say this series is far from over. The Galaxy themselves are aware that Seattle is a team capable of coming back and getting right back into the thick of things. They posted a 4-0 win over the Galaxy at CenturyLink Field on August 5 and a 2-0 win on May 2. They have also been in this position before, going down 3-0 to Real Salt Lake in last year’s Western Conference Semifinal series. In the second leg of that series in Seattle, they nabbed two goals and had many more opportunities, but could not find the equalizer.

“We take solace in the fact that we beat LA earlier in the year 4-0 at our place. We have to come out with the same effort that we came out with when we played at home last year and we have to come out with a better result,” Schmid said. “I don’t think we’re that far away. I don’t think they’re three goals better than us. Tonight, they were three goals better than us, but on a general basis, I don’t think they’re three goals better.”

Kickoff for the series finale is Sunday at 6 pm PT from CenturyLink Field. The match will be televised live on ESPN, with the series winner advancing to the MLS Cup final on December 1.

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