Entering Wednesday's US Open Cup match against Seattle, LA Galaxy players looked at the match as a pathway to glory. One game down, three to go and the team would have added a trophy to its mantle.
Instead, the Galaxy were dumped from the tournament following a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders and were left rueing their missed opportunity at a championship.
"It's disappointing," Galaxy forward Adam Cristman said. "We were all the way [through] to the round of 16 in our first game, and this was the quarterfinal. It's the only type of tournament where you can win a championship and it's only four games. It allows you to focus on it."
The Galaxy fell behind with two early goals but Cristman sliced the lead to one just before the intermission. However, the Sounders did well to put the game away in the second half.
"We were a little naive," captain Landon Donovan said. "I think we tried to play a little bit too much early. We made a few mistakes and they made us pay."
Donovan logged 75 minutes in the loss for the Galaxy. In the club's earlier USOC match — a 2-1 win over the LA Blues — the Galaxy fielded a strong team with several first-team players on the field. Joining Donovan on the field Wednesday were regulars such as Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall and Juninho.
With a mix of regulars and players such as Cristman who are fighting for regular-season playing time, the makings for a deep run were there.
"I think we could have done better tonight and so it's disappointing," Cristman said after the game. "We feel like we could have done well in this tournament. We didn't have it tonight and that's the result."
Perhaps making the loss more difficult was that it came against Western Conference foes Seattle. While the Galaxy have throttled the Sounders in MLS play over the last two seasons, Seattle knocked them out of the US Open Cup in 2010 and now in 2011. Each result came at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash., an intimate setting for the Sounders and a tricky one for the Galaxy.
"A typical early-round Open Cup game," Donovan said. "It was a good atmosphere, it was a good environment. The turf actually played OK. And [the Sounders] were good. ... They deserved to win."
If there is any benefit to losing, it will allow for the club to put all their efforts into regular-season play — where the Galaxy sit atop the league table with 39 points — and CONCACAF Champions League, which begins next month.
“We'll move on and focus on the rest of our games and tournaments for the rest of the year,” Cristman said.
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