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MLS PLAYOFFS: Advantage: Galaxy

11/1/2010

A look at Sunday's MLS postseason action:

IN BRIEF: One moment of brilliance -- by Edson Buddle in the 38th minute -- in a quick-paced, overly physical encounter gives the Galaxy a 1-0 victory in front of 35,521 at Qwest Field in Seattle, a substantial advantage heading into next weekend's home leg in the two-game, total-goals playoff series.

BEST PLAYER: Buddle's goal outshined all else, and A.J. DeLaGarza's pace and energy enabled L.A. to shut off access to the Sounders' dynamic attack. And when chances did arrive, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was up to the task. making big stops on Fredy Montero, Nathan Sturgis and Nate Jaqua.

But best of all was Omar Gonzalez, who expertly organized the Galaxy's backline, won the battles in the middle with Blaise Nkufo and combined with his old University of Maryland teammate DeLaGarza, right back Sean Franklin and surprise left back Eddie Lewis to limit the danger posed by the Sounders' speed.

BEST GOAL: There was just one, and what a beauty -- maybe the nicest of Buddle's 18 this season. With two touches, one to bring down Gonzalez's long ball and push past Seattle defender Patrick Ianni (an incredible move on its own) and the next a half-volleyed lob that cleared goalkeeper Kasey Keller and nestled just inside the right post, Buddle turned this series on its head.

The goal was Buddle's first in postseason since Halloween 2004, when he scored in Columbus' 1-1 draw with New England.

BIGGEST STOP: Ricketts made a season-high eight saves, seven in the first half, the best from a close-range Montero header after Ianni nodded Sturgis' 23rd-minute corner kick toward the net. The big Jamaican acrobatically tipped the ball over his crossbar.

WHAT'S UP WITH THIS?: Steve Zakuani scored just 32 seconds into the game and hit the left post in the 64th minute -- but he was offside on both. He switched from the left flank (where Franklin did a decent job on him) to the right (where he lined up against aging Lewis) when Leo Fernandez came on in the 71st minute. DeLaGarza moved from the middle to left back when Gregg Berhalter entered in the 84th, a wise tactical move in reply.

THE RESULTS

Seattle 0, L.A. Galaxy 1 (Buddle 38)

Second leg: Sunday at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes

OTHER SECOND LEGS

Thursday

San Jose at New York, 5 p.m., ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes

Saturday

Colorado at Columbus, 1 p.m., TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)

FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes

All times Pacific