The LA Galaxy’s leading scorer in 2012 had so few touches in the first half, you started to forget he was there. In fact, you were only reminded of his presence when he tracked back and made a handful of defensive plays to stem the tide of Seattle’s early onslaught.
Robbie Keane, defender? Hardly. Omar Gonzalez even said, “It was pretty funny to see him coming back and sliding, stopping crosses.” But that’s what the game called for.
And when Keane manufactured the penalty call that turned the tide – and yes, it was an excellent example of making a play his team needed in any way possible – you saw that he didn’t need to be terrorizing defenders with one of his mazy runs into the box to make a difference.
His converted penalty kick was his fifth goal of these playoffs, after a regular season in which he netted 16 times. None of those strikes was as important, though, as this one.
The Sounders would not be stopped in the opening 20 minutes of Sunday night. They came out with purpose and as the aggressors, and with one of the highest lines you’ll ever see a team employ before second-half stoppage time.
And they were clinical. Eddie Johnson made up for his incorrectly waved-off goal in the 11th minute just one minute later, and the Sounders had the Galaxy flustered and making mistake after mistake. Their errant clearances all went straight back to Seattle and the pressure was immense.
Then the Sounders retreated a bit to regroup, yet still got a goal before the hour mark from Zach Scott that put them within striking distance of equalizing the series. And even after Keane’s deflating penalty kick, they rebounded and put on another onslaught to close out the match in thrilling fashion.
They never got that last finish, of course, but it’s hard to argue with their performance. They all know this series was lost in the first leg, and that will eat at them during a long offseason.
3. The Galaxy are already worried about the rematch with Houston.
As soon as the whistle blew, and the Galaxy celebrated their second straight Western Conference Championship in a muted fashion, they were already talking about the next hurdle.
On Sunday afternoon, LA’s players all gathered in the lobby of the team hotel to watch the D.C.-Houston game, and all of them had the same takeaway: This is not the same Dynamo team as the one they beat last November.
The Galaxy have watched most of Houston’s improbable run back to the final in which Dominic Kinnear’s men have struck quickly and then fallen back to defend, allowing only four goals through five games. That has several LA players worried, and was perhaps summed up best by Bruce Arena.
“Hopefully we can have an improved performance from tonight,” LA’s coach said, “because the team I saw play in D.C. today was a damn good team.”