CARSON, Calif. – While the Los Angeles Galaxy got a strong boost from Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, the club nearly let momentum and some points slip away against Seattle Sounders on Sunday at Home Depot Center.
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Leading 2-0 against the Sounders, the Galaxy let Steve Zakuani dribble down the heart of their backline and saw the lead trimmed to one goal. The goal was eventually nullified by James Riley’s own-goal as the Galaxy went on to win 3-1, but it caused some frustration for the club.
“Our team played very well [Sunday] although we were a little bit sloppy in the second half and made the game perhaps a little more difficult than it needed to be,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena told reporters after the game. “On the night, we played well, but there are some warning signs when we got a little bit sloppy in the second half, so we’ve got to get better on that.”
Still, the Galaxy’s strong first hour was more than enough to compensate. Donovan and Buddle teamed up for an early goal, something the two were unable to replicate in South Africa. In the 19th minute, Donovan swung in a corner kick and Buddle got his head to it and beat Kasey Keller for the game’s first goal.
It was Buddle’s league-leading 10th goal of the season and helped the Galaxy take command. While Donovan wasn’t able to join Buddle on the score sheet, the two players added quite a bit of spark to the team.
“We were getting in behind their defense a little more and they were just sitting back,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “First half especially, I thought we had them on their heels the entire half and that really set the tone for the entire game. You attribute that to Edson being able to hold the ball up and Landon making his runs in behind and causing in all sorts of problems for them. They bring two pretty good elements to our team.”
Donovan returned to the team on Friday, a day after Buddle re-joined the squad. Limited training time, limited time to acclimate back to Southern California and the time change weren't enough to keep the duo from playing.
“It was just good to be back, a part of a team that I’m also comfortable with,” Donovan said. “The way we started the game was also encouraging and it was fun, really fun to play in the first half and be a part of that.”
Having their presence in the team and on the field was a boost the club used to their advantage, Dunivant said.
“The place was electric,” he said. “We had a sellout, and I think it lifted us a little bit. Landon and Edson brought tons of energy and you could see they were just combining, everything was sharp and it raised our team to another level.”