CARSON, Calif. – The clash between Sounders FC and the LA Galaxy on Saturday night at the StubHub Center had all the trappings of a playoff preview. The hype was there. The stadium was packed to the rafters. And the intensity was fitting of the occasion.
The two Western Conference foes fought for every inch, but nothing could separate the two sides and the match finished in a 1-1 draw.
Eddie Johnson struck first on a powerful header, but Juninho scored the equalizer for LA and the teams played to a draw, keeping Seattle atop the Supporters’ Shield standings at 15-8-5.
The Galaxy had the first opportunity of the match Zardes got past Yedlin on the left side and ripped a shot for the far post, but Gspurning made his first save of the night, swiping it away for a corner kick.
In the 25th minute, Mauro Rosales found Johnson for the goal, combining for the 10th time in Johnson’s 22 career goals for Sounders FC.
After pressuring the Galaxy into conceding a corner kick, Rosales curled the ball from the left corner to Johnson, who evaded his marker Omar Gonzalez and sprung a header past Jaime Penedo for his eighth goal of the season, giving Seattle the 1-0 lead.
The Galaxy still had plenty of fight in them, though.
During first-half stoppage time, Zach Scott was whistled for a foul five yards outside the box, bringing down Jose Villarreal to pick up a yellow card caution.
Juninho drove the free kick just over the top of the five-man Seattle wall and inside Gspurning’s right post for the equalizer just before the halftime whistle.
The highlight-reel goal ended a 200-minute shutout streak for Gspurning.
The second half saw more of the same in terms of crunching tackles and near misses as both continued to scrap to the final whistle.
In the 84th minute, Seattle nearly snagged the lead when Brad Evans wriggled his way into the box up the right side and crossed the ball for Neagle in the middle of the box, but Neagle’s header for the far post skipped just wide.
Evans made his return after missing the last three matches with a calf strain, subbing in to the match in the second half.
Another opportunity-saving tackle by Scott earned him a second yellow card and ejection in the 90th minute, but the free kick sailed wide.
In the final moments of second-half stoppage time, Zardes pressed up the left side and got a low-angled shot away, but missed outside the near post. Seattle would defend clear a last-ditch corner kick attempt and held on for the draw.
Both teams played without U.S. National Team stars, as Seattle’s Clint Dempsey didn’t make the trip and LA’s Landon Donovan was a late scratch. Dempsey suffered a hamstring injury in training this week while Donovan left the Galaxy’s match against D.C. United last week with an ankle injury.
The same two teams will meet in the MLS regular season finale at CenturyLink Field on October 27. Sounders FC’s next match will be September 29 when it hosts the New York Red Bulls.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 25.
LA Galaxy – Juninho 47+.
Sounders FC – Zach Scott (caution) 46+; Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 62; Zach Scott (caution/ejection) 90.
LA Galaxy – None.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Brad Evans 76), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose (Adam Moffat 65), Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins (Marc Burch 82), Eddie Johnson.
LA Galaxy – Penedo, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo (Michael Stephens 94+), Todd Dunivant, Hector Jimenez (Laurent Courtois 76), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, Gyasi Zardes, Jose Villarreal (Jack McBean 81), Robbie Keane.