Sunday, November 7, 2010
MLS PLAYOFFS: Galaxy quickly ends suspense
By Scott French
A look at Sunday's postseason action:
IN BRIEF: The Galaxy romps into the Western Conference final with a 2-1 victory, surging ahead, 3-0, on aggregate after just 27 minutes on Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez headers from David Beckham set pieces. L.A. is home against FC Dallas next Sunday at 6 p.m., with the winner heading to the Nov. 21 MLS Cup final in Toronto.
BEST PLAYER: So hard to choose just one. This was one of the most comprehensive team performances of the season for the Galaxy, and major contributions were made all over the field. The midfield's defensive play was exceptional -- especially Landon Donovan's and Dema Kovalenko's -- and Sean Franklin and Eddie Lewis again eliminated Seattle's flank play. A.J. DeLaGarza was nearly flawless in central defense, and his partner, Gonzalez, was just as good and sprinted from Patrick Ianni's mark to head home to second, Sounders-killing goal. Donovan Ricketts commanded his box … and a few portions outside his box when needed in the opening minutes. Buddle's work to nod home the first was exemplary. But if we can choose just one, how about Beckham, whose dead-ball service made the difference.
BEST GOAL: Both were gems, so take your pick. Beckham floated a corner kick into the middle in the 19th minute, dropping it over Gonzalez, Ianni and Blaise Nkufo for Buddle -- winning a wrestling match with Tyrone Marshall -- to forcefully head into the net. Eight minutes later, Beckham's free kick toward the near, left, post found Gonzalez sprinting into open space, and the big defender glancing header left Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller no chance.
BIGGEST STOP: The Sounders got free in L.A.'s box on three occasions, although they made nothing out of it. Steve Zakuani should have in the 67th, when the ball squirted out of a scrum to leave him one-on-one with Ricketts, but the Jamaican goalkeeper went down to make a body save to keep the shutout going. (Zakuani finally got his in the final minutes, taking a defender-splitting pass from Nate Jaqua, beating Gonzalez and firing over Ricketts and into the goal's ceiling.)
WORTH NOTING: The Galaxy and FC Dallas -- or the Dallas Burn, as the Hoops were then known, met in the 1999 Western Conference final, with L.A. prevailing in a best-of-three series as Carlos Hermosillo scored three goals and Mauricio Cienfuegos netted two more. … The Galaxy is 11-5-2 in Western Conference finals and MLS semifinals, and they're 2-1-0 since the move to the single-game format, losing to Kansas City in 2004 and beating Colorado in 2005 and Houston last year.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. We can't hear (expletive) anything.” -- Angel City Brigade, the most vocal of the Galaxy supporters groups, serenades Seattle fans three sections over.
L.A. Galaxy 2 (Buddle 19, Gonzalez 27), Seattle 1 (Zakuani 86)
(Galaxy advances on aggregate, 3-1)
West: FC Dallas at L.A. Galaxy, Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
East: San Jose at Colorado, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes