CARSON, Calif. – The Seattle Sounders fell short of both of their aims and possibly lost a key offensive cog for the start of the postseason as they dropped a 1-0 decision to the LA Galaxy on Sunday night at the Home Depot Center in the final game of the 2012 MLS regular season.
Mike Magee's 82nd-minute goal delivered a victory to the LA Galaxy and left the Sounders with the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference heading into the MLS Cup playoffs. Seattle would have claimed the No. 2 seed with a draw or a victory.
But far worse, they lost leading scorer Eddie Johnson just before halftime after the striker appearing to injure his left hamstring.
It was an often absorbing encounter, with periods of end-to-end action leading to myriad chances. Robbie Keane came close twice for LA, chipping just past the right post 34 seconds into the second half and off the crossbar – with Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning rooted to his spot, watching the ball sail overhead – seven minutes later.
Johnson nearly headed Seattle ahead from Marc Burch's cross in the 25th minute – LA ‘keeper Josh Saunders parried away the shot on a bounce – and Fredy Montero hit the left post on an open header in the 33rd minute and saw Saunders save his point-blank volley at the left post from Christian Tiffert's cross in the 59th.
Saunders also knocked away an open shot by Mauro Rosales in the 69th.
Eight minutes from time, the Galaxy finally got their breakthrough. Magee, who had come on in the 75th minute for Edson Buddle, swung a shot through inside the left post after a give-and-go with Keane atop the Seattle box.
The result saw the Sounders finish one point behind Real Salt Lake and booked a home date for the first leg of the clubs' semifinal series, which is set to begin Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
The game meant little for the Galaxy, who had already secured fourth place and will begin defense of their MLS title in earnest on Thursday night at the HDC against Vancouver in the Knockout Round. The winner advances to the Western Conference Semifinals against San Jose.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Josh Saunders||Yes, he had some shaky moments. But without big stops on Montero, Johnson and Rosales, Seattle win.|
|2||Fredy Montero||The woodwork and Saunders were no friend to Fredy, who was Sounders' main threat all evening.|
|3||Robbie Keane||Should have had perhaps a brace, particularly on Donovan's inch-perfect cross, but set up winner in end.|