Photo Courtesy of LA Galaxy

Hernandez, Bond save Galaxy’s season in draw with Sounders

Chicharito scores an early goal, and Bond saves the Galaxy in stoppage time. An important point is earned on the road.

The LA Galaxy should probably be kicking themselves, not their opponent, for letting a misfiring Seattle Sounders side come back in a game where the Galaxy seemed to have the bulk of the chances.

But in a hunt for the playoffs, a 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on a rainy Monday night at Seattle’s Lumen Field, might just be the point that gets them into the playoffs. Providing they do something they’ve only done once in the last nine seasons — win their final game of the regular season.

The Galaxy were buoyed by the fantastic play from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who returned to the field after missing the midweek game against Sporting KC because of a high fever and sore throat.

Hernandez would put his mark on the game in the 19th minute when Defender Nick DePuy would flick on Sebastian Lletget’s corner kick toward the six-yard box. Hernandez would stab the bouncing ball with the outside of his right boot and quickly tap it over goalkeeper Stefan Frei from about two yards out.

The goal, Hernandez’s 15th of the season, gave the Galaxy a well-deserved first-half lead that saw the visitors expose some uncharacteristic flaws in the Seattle defense.

Chicharito would be involved in another excellent scoring chance from the Galaxy two minutes into first-half stoppage time. That’s where a pass from midfielder Efrain Alvarez found Hernandez inside the box. His pass was cut out but knocked back in his general direction. Hernandez leaped between two Seattle defenders, headed the ball to Sebastian Lletget, who got his foot on the ball, only to have Frei make an amazing save to his far post. That could have put the Galaxy up for good.

But as it was, the Sounders would find more of the game in the second half. Their possession time was up, as were their chances on goal, and the Galaxy could feel the waves of pressure coming.

Greg Vanney said that he had warned the team of Cristian Roldan’s outside-in runs and that Oniel Fisher was put into the game precisely as a deterrent for those dangerous times.

But Fisher wasn’t up to the task in the 49th-minute when Roldan would turn the corner on the right-hand side and blow right past Fisher, who could only attempt to reach out with his foot. Instead of the ball, the Galaxy defender found the body. And Roldan tumbled to the ground for a well-earned penalty kick.

Raul Ruidiaz would convert the spot-kick in the 51st minute for the Sounders’ only goal of the night. But it would also be one of several nervy moments for the Galaxy.

In fact, Seattle would hit the word work on multiple occasions. Roldan would get a tight angle shot away in the 68th minute that would bounce off the outside of the upper-v of the goal, and again in the 87th minute when his right-footed shot would catch the crossbar.

But the final woodwork of the night was left to the dying moments of the match. That’s when, in the second minute of the four minutes of stoppage time being played, Seattle’s Xavier Arreaga rose from a crowd on a Sounders free-kick to make clean contact with the ball above the fray. His header was solid, was hit with purpose, and had plenty of pace.

But Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond was up to the task. He got his hands to the ball in just enough time to redirect the shot off the crossbar and out. A play that could absolutely be seen as the one that saved the Galaxy’s postseason aspirations.

That play led to defender Nick DePuy clearing the ball out of danger and onto the run of Kevin Cabral, who led a three-man break to the other side of the field only to flub the final pass.

Bond thought the Galaxy would score, Vanney thought his team would score, but the pass was far from good enough, and the chance evaporated.

As it stands, the Galaxy’s point secured them their own destiny. Regardless of what happens in a Western Conference that can only be classified as a bar fight, a win against visiting Minnesota United (FS1, FOX Deportes, National TV) would put the Galaxy into the post-season.

MLS Western Conference standings. Correct as of 11 PM on Monday, Nov. 1st

Where they would end up in that conference is something that can only be sorted on Sunday. But with conference games on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Galaxy might know what scenario could take them where when they kick-off, along with every other Western Conference team, at 3 PM on Sunday (FS1, Fox Deportes, National TV).

But the Galaxy will also have to buck some history in the process as they haven’t won the final game of the regular season since 2012 (1-6-2 in their last nine Decision Day games).

As for the point against Seattle? It was just the first point earned on the road against the Sounders since September 10, 2017. And had the Galaxy won the game on the road, they would have done so for the first time since the 2016 season.

The Galaxy will take the point and run back to the airplane. Then they’ll return to rest before they have everything to play for in the final game of the season.