By: Alex Baker
Carson, CA – The Los Angeles Galaxy were firing on all cylinders as they defeated the Seattle Sounders in the second stage of a two game aggregate series and advanced to the MLS Western Conference semi-finals. Edson Buddle scored on a set piece in the 19th minute after receiving service from David Beckham to give the Galaxy the early lead they’d been looking for.
Speaking to the press afterwards the veteran English midfielder said, “We had to start well we had to not concede we had to get that first goal and I think we did well. We spoke about it all week about not conceding. “
Beckham also provided assistance for the Galaxy’s second goal, which was headed in by Omar Gonzalez on a set piece in the 26th minute.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was particularly pleased with the second goal saying, “The second one that Omar scored was a great goal.” Arena went on to praise Beckham’s performance overall saying, “His reputation on set pieces is well known, well respected and well earned and tonight it was the difference in the game.”
The Galaxy fielded a 4-1-3-2 with Buddle and Mike Magee up front. Seattle fielded a similar formation headed by Freddy Montero and Blaise Nkufo. Coach Arena complimented the way his team neutralized Seattle’s formidable threat explaining, “I think this Montero is a terrific player and being able to hold him in two games is pretty impressive.”
Beckham also seemed to think that defense had played a major role in the Galaxy’s success. “That’s what won us the series, the defense,” said the midfielder, adding, “We’ve got young players in the back and they’ve been exceptional.”
The Galaxy thoroughly dominated the visiting side throughout the entire first half and more than half of the second.
Galaxy keeper Donovan Rickets collided with Sounders substitute, Alvaro Fernandez in the 49th minute while coming off his line to shut down an attack. The Jamaican national received treatment on the pitch for several minutes but managed to return to his feet and resume his goalkeeping duties.[picappgallerysingle id=”10139487″]
When asked if the injury was serious enough to have made him consider leaving the game the player laughed and replied, “No, I never leave the game unless something is broken, so no chance.” The keeper also praised his team’s defense saying, “We’re finishing like where we started, strong defensively. If you want to win a championship you have to be strong defensively.”
With less than five minutes of regulation time remaining Seattle managed to pull one back when Steve Zakuani broke inside, turned and shot from close range. Rickets got a hand to it but failed to control it, deflecting it into the top of the net to make it 2-1.
“They needed to score so we knew they were gonna come hard,” said the keeper. “Unfortunately I let a soft ball in and put us on the back foot for the remainder of the game but we came through.”
But for Seattle Zakuani’s goal proved to be too little too late. Despite throwing everything forward the visitors were unable to capitalize on the disarray the goal created in the Galaxy defense and when the whistle was blown the final aggregate score over both legs of the series was 3-1 in Los Angeles’ favor.
In Coach Arena’s words, “ I thought we played very well in the first half. In the second half we were a little sloppy in the last 20 minutes. Perhaps a little smarter, a littler sharper we’d have perhaps had the opportunity to get the third goal and really kill the game. But give Seattle credit they never quit, they kept coming at us. It was a tough battle for 95 minutes.”
Galaxy striker Edson Buddle, who scored goals in both legs of the aggregate tie was quick to give credit to his teammates for his success saying that, “This season’s been going pretty well as far as scoring goals. I take it one game at a time and my team is getting me the ball in the right position so it makes my job a lot easier.”
The striker also seemed to offer up a good summation of the team’s overall attitude in heading into the semi-final against FC Dallas saying that, ”Our goal is to get back to the final but one game at a time Last years experience helped this year. Seems like we’ve been there before and we’re hungry to get back to finals and finish the job and I can feel that in the locker room.”
The Galaxy will face FC Dallas at the Home Depot Center next Sunday.