CARSON, CA (BDCi) – – Behind a second half goal by Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sunday in the first leg of the MLS Western Conference finals in front of 27,000 at the Stub Hub Center.
The lone goal came in the 52nd minute when Sarvas received a pass in the box from AJ DeLaGarza on the right attacking side. The Sao Paulo native controlled and kicked the ball, which fortuitously deflected off of Sounder defender Chad Marshall sending the goalkeeper Stefan Frei left, while the ball went right, easily finding the net.
The goal was an exciting offensive development in a game more defined by the roughness of play, and the dogged determination of the Galaxy defense.
By halftime, there were 12 fouls and 4 yellow cards. At the completion of the game, Seattle had more fouls (14) than shot attempts (10). The physical nature of the game didn’t surprise Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, but the officiating did.
“Not conceding a goal was important. Obviously the officiating is important…we will go into next Sunday’s game with no one suspended which I guess was the premise of the officiating today,” Arena said in the post game press conference.
In such a low scoring affair, the foul count was more interesting. Seattle defender Zach Scott committed 5 fouls and only collected one yellow card. Both team’s star forwards sustained a high number of infractions. Clint Dempsey of the Sounders took 4 fouls, and Robbie Keane of the Galaxy was the receiver of 4 fouls.
“It’s going to be even more physical next week….the officials have made it clear that they are not going to send anyone off the field,” a post-season-experienced Landon Donovan told reporters after the game.
Los Angeles’ defense was highlighted by some key saves from Jaime Penedo, their goalkeeper. In the 20th minute, Penedo saved two close range shots back to back from Dempsey and fellow striker Obafemi Martins following a long throw-in. He amazed fans again in the 49th minute when Dempsey got around defenders but couldn’t close due to Penedo’s charging Dempsey and getting enough of a block to slow it down for an Omar Gonzalez clearing.
“He’s been very solid, and when we needed him to make a big save, he has, and that’s what you need to win a championship,” Donovan explained in a post game interview.
BRASILEIROS GALACTICOS Update – Midfielder Juninho played the entire game Sunday. He is the only Los Angeles player to have suited up for every game this season and in the play-offs. Game hero and midfielder Sarvas left the match in the 69th minute with what Bruce Arena called a “banged up hip”. The coach was confident the injury wouldn’t keep Marcelo from playing in next Sunday’s leg in the northwest. Back defender Leonardo did not suit up as he was still dealing with a hamstring injury suffered in the last game versus Real Salt Lake.