As the final seconds ticked down in the first half at the Home Depot Center with the scoreboard showing zeroes, the Seattle Sounders were happy with where they stood.
Having a lead surely would have been ideal, but Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid wasn’t trying to be greedy. Even heading home for the second leg of the Western Conference Championship with a 1-0 loss would have been acceptable.
But situation changed in first-half stoppage time. The LA Galaxy broke through with a goal when Landon Donovan won a ball in the middle of the penalty area, dribbled it to the endline and found Robbie Keane at the far post for a virtually uncontested header.
POSTGAME: Schmid, Johnson react to 3-0 loss
It was the first goal of what would eventually be a 3-0 Galaxy victory on Sunday, marking the second straight year in which the Sounders have lost the first leg of a playoff series by that score.
“I’m just disappointed that we didn’t keep it at 1-0,” Schmid told reporters after the game. “We had the ability to keep it at 1-0 and we should have kept it at 1-0 and played with a better mentality at that stage.”
And, well, they didn’t. Twice in a three-minute stretch, the Galaxy were able to get behind the Sounders defense to produce goals. First it was Mike Magee in the 64th minute and then it was Keane again in the 67th.
“We lost our shape, lost our concentration, lost our focus and they bang away two goals and we’re a little fortunate it wasn’t three or four [in the second half],” Schmid said.
Jeff Parke was particularly responsible for keeping it from being worse. The Sounders defender made a sliding clearance of a ball that had gotten behind goalkeeper Michael Gspurning in the 76th minute.
That save could prove pivotal if the Sounders are to climb back into this series. What also gives them some hope is the knowledge that they beat the Galaxy 4-0 at CenturyLink Field earlier this season.
“It’s nothing we haven’t done,” Parke said. “But we definitely have to be on our game and we have to be a lot better than we were tonight. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, but we have to forget about it and move on.”