CARSON, Calif. — Landon Donovan has played in more than his share of MLS matches but after Monday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, he was certain the match was not a run-of-the-mill contest.
“It was a weird game,” the LA Galaxy star said. “It’s not often that you start a game with one of your DPs on the bench, your third-string goalie [starting] and within a half-hour you have to take out one of your center backs.”
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However strange the match was for LA, though, the result remained the same. The Galaxy and the Sounders tied 0-0, a result that helped extend the Galaxy’s unbeaten run to 11 matches. The game was there for the taking, Donovan said, but the attack fell short in helping secure all three points.
“The effort was good, we just weren’t sharp,” he said. “All in all, I think we’re pretty proud of the performance we put in given everything that happened.”
Brian Perk made his MLS debut in goal, subbing in for Donovan Ricketts (broken forearm) and Josh Saunders (suspension). While he has played in only four matches this year — three Reserve Division games and a US Open Cup match — Perk had the confidence of his teammates.
“There was no doubt in my mind he’d perform well,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. “It was just his time. I told him, ‘You know what? I’m totally confident. It’s your time right now.’ Everything was lining up. He was playing well with the reserve team, his confidence was growing and goalies in my opinion like all players it’s 90 percent confidence. They have the ability but it’s having that confidence.”
Berhalter started the game on the bench, but fate made the night a bit less daunting for Perk, albeit at the expense of a starter. A.J. DeLaGarza took a kick to the face and eventually left the game, as he was replaced by Berhalter midway through the first half.
“As soon as Gregg went in there, my comfort level went up instantly because I’ve played with him four games in a row now so I know what to expect,” Perk said. “He calms me down and he’s got a ton of experience so that helps me a lot.”
Perk’s biggest challenge of the match came in the 18th minute. After Omar Gonzalez was whistled for a penalty kick, Seattle’s Fredy Montero went up to the penalty spot and tried to bury the ball into the left corner of the net, but Perk dived correctly and turned Montero away.
“Give Perk a lot of credit in his first game,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “I don’t think he was tested a whole lot but a penalty kick is about as much of a test as you’re gonna face.”
The night was made more difficult by other absences. Aside from the first- and second-choice ‘keepers not dressing, David Beckham started on the bench due to a back injury. DeLaGarza left the game in the first half and Gonzalez left the game with 10 minutes remaining, forcing Arena to put Bryan Jordan in at right back and slide Sean Franklin into central defense.
“We were able to deal with it,” Arena said. “It would have been a good game for [Paolo] Cardozo and [Miguel] López. That was my thinking, but it never came to fruition.”
Beckham came on for the final 21 minutes but was unable to help the Galaxy break through Seattle’s defense.
Despite the lack of goals, however, the squad's ability to continue grinding out results with even more adversity thrown in its way speaks well for the team.
“This team has been filled with guys stepping in, doing their job and doing great for us,” Gonzalez said. “Here’s another story of one of our teammates coming up big. We have to praise [Perk] for that. I think he did a great job.”