Mike Magee netted the winner in the 83rd minute and Josh Saunders had some amazing saves as the Galaxy defeated the Seattle Sounders 1-0 in both teams’ regular season finale.
Magee scored on a beautiful interplay between Robbie Keane and Magee. Magee chipped the ball into Keane and then made a run off the ball, Keane played the ball into Magee’s path. Magee then curled the ball to the far post beating Michael Gspurning, the Sounders goalkeeper.
The Galaxy and Sounders played a very entertaining 1-0 game as both teams had numerous opportunities, but could not find the mark. Keane was the danger man for the Galaxy as he chipped a ball from just outside the box and hit the crossbar, while Gspurning stood watching. Keane had another opportunity when he got behind the defense and Landon Donovan played a perfect through ball. However, Keane’s cheap to the back post went just wide.
Seattle had a number of opportunites as well, but Saunders came up huge for the Galaxy in the net. Mauro Rosales cut from his right to his left, and then fired a shot from seven yards away, but Saunders parried it away. He also made great saves on a Fredy Montero diving header and a glancing header by Eddie Johnson. Montero had another diving header opportunity, but the ball went off the post.
The teams were very even as both had 18 attempts on goal, four shots on target, six corner kicks, while splitting possession almost down the middle. However, the story of the game will come down to injuries. Eddie Johnson left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury for Seattle and Sean Franklin didn’t play in the second half due to injury.
The Galaxy did celebrate the return of David Beckham and Donovan to the lineup. Donovan played the full 90 minutes while Beckham played for 62 minutes. Beckham’s normally pinpoint service was a little off at times, but that is to be expected when coming back from a prolonged absence. Donovan also was not as lively, but still had some dangerous plays from the left flank.
The big question for the Galaxy heading into the playoffs will be the health of their defense. A.J. De La Garza is still not healthy and is likely to miss the team’s playoff opener. Sean Franklin left the match due to injury and the Galaxy inserted Bryan Gaul on the right side. The team does not have a backup right defender and was forced to use Gaul who brought everything to the middle of the field, the natural lefty seeming hesitant to use his right foot.
The Galaxy defense struggle at the beginning of the season largely due to the absence of Omar Gonzalez, but was impenetrable in the middle of the season when Franklin, Gonzalez, De La Garza, and Todd Dunivant were starting together on the backline. However, if they are missing those key components they may again be vulnerable. Tommy Meyer has been starting in place of De La Garza and looked hesitant. He did not close out Rosales in one situation, leaving the other team’s leading assist man a ton of time to play a ball into the middle. Meyer was also beaten to the ball by Montero for a header, but Saunders bailed his defender out. The Galaxy did not concede tonight but it was not because their defense looked as unflappable as it has at times this season.
The playoffs loom, and the team will be glad to have gotten minutes for Donovan and Beckham while still getting a result. However, a lot of work remains if the team is to return to MLS Cup. The work begins on Thursday vs. Vancouver.
The Galaxy have played the Whitecaps three times this season winning 3-0 and 2-0 at the Home Depot Center and getting a draw in their only visit to BC Place. The Galaxy will host the single elimination playoff game against Vancouver. If they win, they will advance to a home and home series against the San Jose Earthquakes.
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Next: 7:30 PM, Thursday Nov 1 vs. Vancouver (MLS Playoffs)