Los Angeles Galaxy: 5 Things We Learned About the Galaxy in the Loss to Seattle
It was the second leg of the series that had L.A. leading by 3-0 after a spectacular first game by the Galaxy.
The three-goal deficit seemed almost insurmountable, but Seattle sure did make L.A. sweat it out. They went up 2-0 and had all the momentum until Robbie Keane earned and converted a penalty.
In the end, the Galaxy held on and defeated the Sounders 4-2 on aggregate. But in the process, a lot was learned about this team.
Tommy Meyer Is Still a Rookie
Rookie center-back Tommy Meyer has started in L.A.'s backline ever since A.J. DeLaGarza picked up a knee injury about seven weeks ago.
He played so well in place of DeLaGarza that the fact that he's a rookie almost slipped my mind.
Meyer's youth and inexperience showed against the Seattle Sounders though. In the series' second leg, the center-back got off to a slow start, allowing forward Eddie Johnson to get behind the defense more than a few times.
Johnson had a goal erased because he was wrongly called offside, but a few minutes later, he scored to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead.
Meyer eventually settled down and defended Johnson better. But the damage was already done.
It's hard to believe that Meyer is only a rookie. He did make mistakes, but. considering how talented he currently is, just imagine how dominant he will be after another season.
Perhaps he will be Omar Gonzalez's replacement when Gonzalez finally makes the move to Europe.
Robbie Keane Reaffirmed His Place as Team MVP
Ever since his return from the Euros, forward Robbie Keane has been nothing short of impressive with the Galaxy.
In the playoffs alone, he's scored five goals, which puts him in first for postseason goals scored.
It's not just that he scores, Keane's work rate is unbelievable. He constantly is buzzing around the defense and provides good service for the likes of Mike Magee and Edson Buddle.
In the second leg, he earned the penalty kick (a handball that resulted from a cross) that disrupted Seattle's momentum. He took the penalty and converted it, which really put a damper on the Sounders' 2-0 lead (3-2 aggregate).
If it weren't for San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski's 27 goals this season, I think Keane would be the clear choice for MLS MVP.
Edson Buddle Needs to Do Better
Edson Buddle was a big question mark throughout the season for the Galaxy.
After being one of the Galaxy's most effective players and top goal scorers before his stint in Germany, his return to L.A. has been less than stellar.
The dangerous pairing of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane up top has taken minutes away from Buddle and he seems to never have found a groove this year.
All Buddle had to really do in the second leg of the series was hold the ball up as a target forward in order to relieve some pressure from the Galaxy defense. He did so during some periods of the game, but many of his touches resulted in giveaways.
He also made a crucial defensive error on a Seattle corner. Buddle failed to defend the near post and allowed Zach Scott to get a clean header and a goal.
Buddle needs to be more consistent and do his job when defending set pieces. A goal or two would also be nice.
Juninho Is the Key to Defensive Success
Because of an injury, Galaxy midfielder Juninho did not start against Seattle in the second leg of the series.
In his place, Marcelo Sarvas got the start next to David Beckham. These two would be L.A.'s central midfield pairing, which plays an important role in slowing down the Seattle attack.
Juninho's absence for most of the game was very apparent. The Sounders controlled the midfield and won almost all of the 50-50 balls.
Both of the goals that were conceded by L.A. came when "Juni" was on the bench. Once he came on, the Galaxy were able to pressure Seattle in the midfield and really regain control of the game.
The understanding between Beckham and Juninho that has developed over the past few years is so extremely valuable to the Galaxy that it would be a mistake to start any other central midfield pairing except out of necessity.
Landon Donovan's Absence Was Felt
With a hamstring strain that he picked up in the first game of the series, Landon Donovan didn't even make the 18 the second time around.
Leading the league in playoff assists (3), Donovan's absence was huge for the Galaxy. The chemistry between Keane and Donovan is unlike that of any other forward pairing in MLS.
Having Buddle play up top with Keane may have been the right tactical move by head coach Bruce Arena though. In a game where holding onto the ball is crucial, playing Buddle as a target forward made sense.
But there were countless opportunities for the Galaxy that screamed of needing Landon Donovan's magic touch. If he had played, it's probable that L.A. would've scored earlier and not have had to worry about Seattle's goals so much.
One thing's for sure though. Donovan will really be needed for the MLS Cup Final rematch against the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo are red hot and, just like last year, Donovan may well provide the goal that wins it all again for the Galaxy.