By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Los Angeles Galaxy's 1-0 victory at Qwest Field against the Seattle Sounders has set the Galaxy up for a comfortable second leg at Home Depot Center.
As for whether the win sent a message to the rest of the playoff field that Los Angeles is ready to lift the MLS Cup? Landon Donovan doesn't see it that way.
"We don't need to send a message. We've been the best team for two years, so there's no message to send," Donovan said. "We know that we're good and we've got to keep playing like this if we're going to get to the final."
It was the second home playoff game in Sounders history, and the second time at home in the postseason with the Sounders shut out.
"We're disappointed in the result. When you weigh the whole game, I thought we created more chances than they created," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "You take a goal where, hats offs to Edson [Buddle], but he just turns and hits the ball in the direction of the goal and it could go anywhere, but it went in. At the end of the day, right now, we're down at halftime 1-0 and have a second half to play in LA and everything is still possible for us."
Schmid said he'll need more from Fredy Montero (who got his green card Monday and immediately became a permanent resident of the U.S., thus freeing up an international roster spot for the Sounders) and Steve Zakuani, his top scorers. He wants to see Montero avoid the extra touch on the ball and not try too hard. And as of last night, it didn't seem likely that central defender Jeff Parke would be able to play this week after he sprained an ankle in the second half and had to leave the game.
While Seattle's depth will be tested, the Galaxy's depth has already proved to be impressive. Eddie Lewis was a surprise starter at left back for LA and he kept fleet-footed Sanna Nyassi in check, then marked Zakuani adeptly when the Sounders substituted for Nyassi and changed their look late in the game.
For Seattle, it was a familiar story – Enough chances created, but no finishing.
"For the most part, I think a draw might have been fair," Keller said. "We feel very confident with the results we have gotten on the road that we can go down there and get through this tie. It's a long ways from being over. And that's what I'm probably happy about. If you're going to lose, this is the way to lose. You lose 1-0 on a ridiculous goal and you have all confidence to go down there…We will do our best to make it happen."
Zakuani said the Sounders got away from their simplistic yet successful game plan of building from the back through the midfield and up to the forwards, with the wings getting wide. He felt the ball bypassed center midfielders Nathan Sturgis and Osvaldo Alonso too often, and that the chances the team generated were off set pieces.
"We never had our game going. In saying that, we still had a lot of chances," Zakuani said. "I think we could've walked away with two or three goals possibly. It's frustrating and we have got to get ready for next week."