CARSON, CALIF. – The sellout crowd of 27,000 at the StubHub Center might have been disappointed by the absence of top stars Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders FC and Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
But they cheered and chanted their way to the end of a 1-1 draw Saturday that left the Sounders (15-8-5) at the top of MLS and the two-time defending champion Galaxy (13-10-6) still struggling for their playoff lives.
“We’re pleased to get a tie,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a tough building to play in, and they’re a good team. We got the first goal. I think they had a little more of possession.”
Seattle got on the board in the 25th minute, when Mauro Rosales sailed a corner kick in front of the goal and Eddie Johnson headed it past keeper Jaime Penedo. It was Johnson’s eighth goal of the season, moving him even with Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle for the team lead.
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“Obviously a good header,” Schmid said. “He got up well on it. It’s something that we’ve come to expect from him. It’s one of the things that makes us
a dangerous team: that we can score in those kinds of situations. But we had other opportunities that we needed to do better with.”
The lead stood up until seconds before halftime, when Zach Scott was carded for a foul near the top of the penalty arc. Juninho sent the free kick over the Seattle wall and tucked it inside the left post to tie it.
Scott picked up his second yellow card late in the second half, which played out scorelessly.
“The first one he said was kind of a succession of fouls, it wasn’t the foul itself,” Scott said. “So fine. I didn’t think the second one was anything major at all – especially how the game was going. I thought there were several plays on their end that should have drawn cards.”
The result ended Seattle’s five-game win streak – the longest in MLS this season and matched the longest ever for the Sounders.
Los Angeles outshot Seattle 11-7, won 54 percent of the duels and held 61 percent of the possession.
“It’s what it is,” Schmid said. “It was an end-to-end game and I think it was a good game for the fans. Exciting game. It wasn’t always the best soccer.”
Some of the glitter came off the match about seven hours before the start, when the Sounders announced that U.S. national team captain Dempsey had not traveled with the team due to a hamstring injury suffered late in the week. More followed when the Galaxy released it’s lineup, which was minus club and country star Donovan due to an ankle injury that coach Bruce Arena had downplayed a couple days earlier.
“I thought we did what we were asked to do,” Scott said. “Especially in the beginning of the game, I thought we played tremendously well. We should have gotten a couple of more. In the second half, it was more weather the storm. But … we’re happy to come in here and play a better game than the last time we were here.”
The last time the Sounders visited, L.A. pounded them 4-0 – the worst MLS loss in club history.
Along with the absences, there were a couple of new faces as well. Midfielder Adam Moffat made his Sounders debut and Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani returned to the game-day roster for the first time since April 20, although he did not play.
Schmid said Zakuani is cleared to play again, although probably not for long minutes at a time. He also said there is a chance Dempsey could be available when the Sounders return to action Sept. 29 against the New York Red Bulls at CenturyLink Field.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer