Sounders FC

Clad in blue, Sounders rule starless Galaxy

CARSON, CALIF. – You could hardly recognize Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy as the sides met Saturday night.

The Galaxy went long stretches without its two biggest stars: Landon Donovan, who is ill, and David Beckham, who was sent off early with a red card.

Meanwhile, Seattle played without All-Star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg due to illness. And – for the first time – the Sounders wore all-blue uniforms.

If coach Sigi Schmid is superstitious, the new kits might stick around a while as the Seattle broke a three-game league winless streak with a 2-0 victory before a crowd of 20,162 at the Home Depot Center.

“Obviously, we’re happy with the win,” Schmid said. “The card to Beckham obviously changed the game early on. But I thought even before that we were starting to look like we could break through.”

The result moves the Sounders (8-5-8; 32 points) past L.A. (7-4-10, 31) into second place in the MLS Western Division. Seattle also ended a club-record streak of 335 regular-season minutes without a goal.

They did that despite the absence of Ljungberg, who stayed on the bench after experiencing what a club spokesman called “disorientation and memory loss” after the flight down from Seattle.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, went 45 minutes without Donovan, who sat out the first half after being diagnosed with swine flu.

And the Galaxy lost designated player Beckham in the 17th minute after he made a spikes-up tackle on Peter Vagenas and was sent off with a straight red card.

“I can’t complain,” L.A. coach Bruce Arena said. “He came in pretty hard. I’d have to look at it on the replay, but he came in pretty hard.”

Beckham had missed the earlier Galaxy game in Seattle while on loan to AC Milan. But Sounders fans didn’t get to see much more this time.

Beckham received a nice hand when introduced for his first home appearance in MLS play, picked up some boos from local fans on his few touches, sent two long crosses over the heads of their intended targets, and then made the dangerous play on his former Galaxy teammate. He was cheered as he made his long walk to the locker room.

With all that offensive starpower missing, attention fell to the goalkeeping duel of Seattle’s Kasey Keller and Los Angeles’ Donovan Ricketts – the two men who shared keeper duties at the MLS All-Star Game.

But Ricketts had little chance on either Seattle goal.

In the 22nd minute, midfielder Brad Evans made a long run through the deserted right side, and when Ricketts moved to protect that inside pole, Evans rolled the ball to the far side where Steve Zakuani knocked the ball into a wide-open goal.

The Sounders struck again in the 55th minute when Nate Jaqua headed a high cross down to the feet of Fredy Montero, who buried the ball into the top of the net from close range.

“It feels good,” Zakuani said. “The whole week was good. That Fredy scored the second one and that kind of cooled them off. The red card probably hurt them a little bit more, but it’s still a win.”

The game disintegrated late as Seattle lost Tyrone Marshall to two yellow cards, and Los Angeles’ Eddie Lewis got a straight red for flinging James Riley off the pitch.

The final minutes played out with 10 Sounders going against nine Galaxy players.

“It was weird, but I think we were good even from the beginning,” Zakuani said. “If we only had 11-on-11 I think we were passing the ball well. With the 10 it just made a bit more space and we took advantage. It feels good to get a win.”

The Sounders return to action at 7 p.m. Thursday when New England visits Qwest Field.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808