Steve Carrillo

Hope lingers as LA Galaxy shutout Seattle Sounders

CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy scored three times on Sunday afternoon en route to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Seattle Sounders (13-11-5) and their first shutout victory since a 4-0 victory on July 7 over the Columbus Crew. And paired with favorable results across the Western Conference, that now see the club in seventh place — just three points behind their opponents — the Galaxy did almost everything they needed to on the night.

“When you win you always feel good,” Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told reporters after the game. “That’s what the game is about, to win. And today we could finally get the win, but we got it in a good way also. We scored three goals. We played good. We were organized. The team had a good stability during the whole game.”

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in the 10th-minute of the match when he converted a penalty kick after the Sounders’ Brad Smith fouled Galaxy striker Ola Kamara in the box. It was the result of some great interplay between Ibrahimovic and Kamara and saw defender Rolf Feltscher start the play by forcing a turnover deep in Sounders territory.

The goal was Ibrahimovic’s 18th of the season and was number 501 of his career.

Kamara wouldn’t be outdone, however. and in the 40th-minute he took a pass from Romain Alessandrini that put him in behind the Sounders’ defense and he redirected the cross into the back of the net.

Video review of the play would be put to the test with Alessandrini skirting the offside line. But ultimately the play was allowed to stand and Kamara was credited with his 11th goal of the season for the club and his second in as many games.

The Galaxy (11-11-8), prior to the match were 0-4-1 when scoring within the first ten minutes of a match and just 3-1-5 when holding the lead at halftime. But in front of 25,503 fans at StubHub, the Galaxy’s defense held strong.

And to make sure the Galaxy got all three points, even Emmanuel Boateng — making his first start since a 5-0 loss in Seattle on August 18 — would get on the score sheet.

Midfielder Sebastian Lletget would make a long cross from the right touchline in the 52-minute to find Alessandrini on the left. Alessandrini’s touch took him into contact with Kelvin Leerdam who’s sliding tackle got all ball but also pushed the ball back off Alessandrini. The deflection went towards the penalty spot where Seattle’s Román Torres allowed the spinning ball to pass under his feet and where Boateng was able to toe-poke the ball over the line.

It was Boateng’s second goal of the year and his first goal since May 12 of this year.

But while the offense provided the goals it was in the Galaxy’s defense and it’s midfield passing where the club really found success on the night.

With Jorgen Skjelvik’s exclusion from the team-sheet due to the flu, it was up to Dave Romney and Daniel Steres to join forces for the first time this year in the center of defense. And the games they played together previously, paid dividends for a Galaxy defense that had leaked goals on a consistent basis throughout the season.

Romney in-particular played very well on the night intercepting and anticipating passes throughout the game. And Steres, to his credit as well, making just his 10th start over the year, also came up with timely tackles and good defensive stands.

Kinnear even recalled the moment he told both players they’d be starting together on the field. “The conversation I had with them yesterday was, here’s what’s happening, and they said ‘We’ve played 35 games together.’ And I said okay, let’s make 36 a good one. I thought both guys did very well for us today.”

But Jonathan dos Santos also deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the Galaxy. Dos Santos was quick on his distribution and constantly got the ball at his feet and then exploded into space in the midfield distributing as necessary. The Sounders didn’t have an answer for him and his pressure on the ball — the entire teams’ pressure on the ball — kept their opponents out of rhythm and on their back foot.

“Yes, the movement was great,” Galaxy captain Ashley Cole said of the team’s performance. “Sebastian [Lletget] and Jonathan [dos Santos] in there, they controlled it, kept the ball well, switched the play well and dominated the midfield today.

“I think that was important against people like Nicolas [Lodeiro] who goes everywhere, it was important to stop him and I don’t think he really got into the game,” Cole continued.

“We stopped their rhythm, we pressed, we won the ball back, we won first and second balls at times, and yeah, I think it was needed.”

The Galaxy are by no means favorites to get the last playoff spot. Several conference teams still have a game in hand and might have an easier schedule.

But the Galaxy now have just the tiniest bit of hope when it comes to the post-season. And while their run is likely to fall well short — they’ll need help from other teams — the shutout and the victory have motivated them through another week of training.

“I think with this game we gave ourselves some life,” Galaxy goalscorer Kamara explained. “Now we go into this week and we still have to work hard, maybe we have to change a little bit of stuff but I think it was good we got the clean sheet, we get three goals and we get confidence so I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

And the team they leapfrogged on the night – the Vancouver Whitecaps – will be in Carson next Saturday. A win there could make the Western Conference race for the last spot even more interesting. And could keep the Galaxy entertaining down to the final four games of the season.