SEATTLE – In one of the wilder games of the MLS season, the Seattle Sounders triumphed over the LA Galaxy 3-2 in their Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round game. On a rainy night at CenturyLink Field, the team advanced in their post-season journey on the strength of a dramatic game-winning strike from Erik Friberg.
Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez scored in the first half for Seattle, while Friberg played the hero role with a 73rd-minute golazo for the home side. Sebastian Lletget and Gyasi Zardes netted for LA in a back-and-forth first half.
The game was a wild affair from the get-go as the sides combined for four goals in the first 22 minutes.
The Sounders nabbed the first one in just the fifth minute, after Friberg lofted a feed into the LA penalty box, which popped free in front of an open net after Omar Gonzalez ran in front of Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. A waiting Dempsey pounced on the loose ball and buried it into the LA net, giving the Sounders the 1-0 lead.
Seattle’s jubilation would be extremely short-lived, however, as LA equalized just one minute later, when Lletget poked a shot past Sounders 'keeper Stefan Frei to pull the visitors even.
But the theatrics were just getting started.
The Sounders took the lead again in the 12th minute, when Valdez managed to slip behind the Galaxy backline and get his foot to an Andreas Ivanschitz free kick and slot it by Ricketts, putting Seattle up 2-1.
But the Galaxy struck back again in the 22nd minute, when Zardes teed up a shot that took a deflection off Valdez and whistled past Frei, knotting the contest at 2-2.
The game maintained its energetic pace through the duration of the first half, with each side looking primed to add to the parade of goals. However, neither could quite manage to find a third, and the game would remain tied 2-2 heading into half-time.
The high intensity continued into the second half as both sides searched for a go-ahead tally. Dempsey came close to giving the Sounders the lead shortly after second-half kickoff, with a well-placed header on the LA goal. But Ricketts made a beautiful diving save to keep it tied.
Friberg finally broke through in the 73rd minute for the Sounders after a Tyrone Mears cross was popped straight in the air by LA’s AJ DeLaGarza and then headed away from goal by Leonardo. Friberg pounced on the ball and unleashed a perfect strike into the upper corner, giving the Sounders the 3-2 lead and sending the crowd of 35,537 at CenturyLink into bedlam.
The victory sends the Sounders to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Galaxy, meanwhile, is sent packing, and will not have a chance to defend their MLS Cup championship of a season ago.