The way the second half unfolded in the Seattle Sounders’ 3-3 draw with the LA Galaxy on Friday night was emblematic of just how quickly fortunes can change in the MLS playoff picture.
At halftime, the Sounders trailed 2-0 and were in jeopardy of dropping their fifth consecutive road match. Thirty minutes and three goals later and Seattle had catapulted from 10th place into sixth. By evening’s end, the Sounders took their road point and jumped three spots into the seventh and final playoff seed.
“Our team still has fight left in them,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “I couldn’t be any prouder of the guys to dig deep and come back against a team that is desperate as well.”
Each and every point is going to be crucial over the final eight matches of the regular season as the Sounders look to extend their league record to 14 consecutive postseason appearances. Just one point separates the Galaxy in sixth with the Portland Timbers in 10th place.
Seattle will head to Portland next Friday (7 p.m. PT; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM) for another colossal six-pointer against its biggest rival. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the resolve that the Sounders showed in southern California could ultimately be the catalyst to making the playoffs yet again.
“We were very happy that we were able to in one half create so many chances, score some goals and come back,” said Kelyn Rowe, whose first goal of the season halved the 2-0 deficit in the 53rd minute. “That’s good resiliency from this team.”
Added captain Nicolás Lodeiro: “We knew if we scored one goal quickly then we’d be in the game…In my opinion, we deserved to win. But it certainly serves as a push.”
The Sounders switched to a 5-3-2 formation and found more success in the final third than they had had recently. Ruidíaz scored his ninth goal in as many career matches against the Galaxy and worked well alongside Jordan Morris, who played more as a true second striker than on the wing and found the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute.
Now the objective for Seattle is to take the positives from Friday, rather than dwell on a late LA equalizer on a penalty following Video Review, and carry that momentum into next week’s match and beyond.
“I’m positive that after what feels like another gut punch, I think we’re a resilient group and I think we can come through it,” said Schmetzer. “There’s a bunch of strong characters in there. They didn’t give up at halftime, and in my opinion, we should have won the game.”