MLS Cup Playoffs 2014: Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy 2nd Leg Score and Reaction

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2014

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan, center, challenges Seattle Sounders midfielder Brad Evans, right, in the first half of the second leg of the MLS western conference final soccer match, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Seattle Sounders both won and lost in their MLS Cup Playoffs showdown with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night. 

The Sounders won the game 2-1, but the Galaxy advanced to the MLS Cup based on aggregate goals and the tiebreaker of road goals scored. Los Angeles extended its winless streak away from home to six matches, but that is a concession it will gladly make to face the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup.

Los Angeles won the first leg 1-0, so Seattle was backed into a corner entering play Sunday. The Sounders had to win by at least two goals to advance, although a 1-0 victory would have been enough to put the series into extra time. A one-goal win by the Sounders in which the Galaxy also scored would send Los Angeles through based on road goals scored.

That is exactly what happened.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Sounders got a boost before the game even started thanks to their raucous home fans. MLS doesn't quite inspire the same type of passion as European soccer does in most locations, but that cannot be said about Seattle fans.

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The MLS Twitter feed captured the fans getting ready for the game outside the gates: 

Major League Soccer @MLS

Sing & shout: https://t.co/gIXu9zGc8m (c/o @SoundersFC) #SEAvLA

Goalie Stefan Frei commented on his team's fans and the boost they provide, via Justin Lester of SoundersFC.com:

Them being so close to you, you do feel like they are right behind you and they have your back. They’re ready to step on the field and cover you if they need to, so to speak. When we attack, especially towards our fans, for some reason we like to score on that side. It has to do with the fans just being there and giving us that extra push to try to find the back of the net.

Any questions about whether Los Angeles would sit back in front of those hostile fans and try to advance with a scoreless tie were answered right away. The Galaxy pushed forward a number of times in the opening 15 minutes, largely because of Seattle mistakes, as Matt Pentz of The Seattle Times noted:

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Some cheap giveaways in its own half have nearly cost Seattle. It'll want to clean that up — soon

To Seattle's credit, it defended those attacks and prevented a crippling early goal, via Ari Liljenwall MLSSoccer.com:

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

Really nice defending from Yedlin to break up the counter. He has improved so much at that.

Clint Dempsey set up Brad Evans for the first goal of the game in the 26th minute. Dempsey's pass right across the front of the goal was perfectly placed, and Evans finished to send the crowd into a frenzy and tie the series at 1-1.

Liljenwall and John Boyle of The Herald in Everett, Washington, described the goal:

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

That's the first goal of the year for Brad Evans in any competition. 1-1 on aggregate.

John Boyle @johnpboyle

Credit Clint Dempsey for staying with that ball after Oba Martins went down thinking he was fouled. Ugly first goal fitting for this game.

The MLS Twitter feed captured Evans' celebration:

Major League Soccer @MLS

Here's Brad Evans' opening goal for @SoundersFC: http://t.co/chB8b3suOl #SEAvLA http://t.co/G5WUt8sxr6

That was far from the end of the Seattle push. Dempsey scored another goal just moments later, but he was called offside, and then he set up Obafemi Martins for a clean look that just missed. Liljenwall and Pentz broke down the action:

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

Dempsey buries one but he's offside, Oba gets a good look but sails it. Crowd is buzzing.

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Martins JUST WIDE. Goodness, what a back heel from Dempsey to free him up. Shot slices just past the left post

It was just a matter of time before Seattle scored another with the pressure it was putting on Los Angeles, and that is exactly what happened when Dempsey buried one at 31 minutes. It gave Seattle a 2-0 lead in the game and 2-1 lead in the series aggregate. Boyle and Larry Stone of The Seattle Times described the Dempsey masterpiece:

John Boyle @johnpboyle

Better than the finish for Dempsey was the play he made from the ground to keep possession leading up to the goal. #Sounders

Larry Stone @StoneLarry

Sounders have been relentless in their attack, and now Clint Dempsey scores to give them a 2-1 aggregate lead.

The MLS Twitter feed also captured Dempsey celebrating:

Major League Soccer @MLS

Halftime! Take a look at @clint_dempsey's series-leading goal: http://t.co/oBxzIQ0kqY #SEAvLA http://t.co/OTwVDDmQhD

The Sounders took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but Liljenwall noted that it was far from a safe margin as the second half began:

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

And that's a half. I don't know if Seattle could have hoped for a better first 45. One more goal, however, would go a loooong way.

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

Also, remember, one goal for the Galaxy and they're right back in the drivers seat. Second half is going to be just brutally intense.

Neither team made any substitutions to start the second half, which was somewhat surprising from Los Angeles' perspective considering how much it struggled in the opening 45 minutes.

Clearly, the Galaxy knew what they were doing, because they stunned the crowd nine minutes into the second half with a beautiful goal off a corner kick to cut the game's deficit to 2-1 and bring the series back into an aggregate tie at 2-2. However, it gave the Galaxy the all-important road goal they needed.

Juninho buried the shot from just outside of the penalty box. MLS had the highlight of the goal, and Pentz set the scene for the final 30 minutes:

Major League Soccer @MLS

Juninho puts @LAGalaxy in the driver's seat with this away goal: http://t.co/JEqmPlAXnQ #SEAvLA

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

GOAL Galaxy. Juninho with a rocket. 2-1 Seattle on the night, 2-2 on aggregate and if this holds, L.A. is through on away goals

Landon Donovan had a great chance to knock out Seattle on a breakaway. Liljenwall and Pentz described the action:

Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwall

Wow, LD with a great look on a break-away but great work from Stefan Frei to deflect it away.

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Kick SAVE from Frei on an onrushing Donovan. Sticks out a big boot to keep Seattle within one

Speaking of Donovan, his assist on the Los Angeles goal put him in rarefied air, via Paul Carr of ESPN:

Paul Carr @PaulCarrTM

Landon Donovan gets an assist on Juninho's goal. Donovan ties the MLS playoff record with his 14th career assist.

Los Angeles continued to force the issue offensively and got yet another golden opportunity to score a devastating goal from the Sounders' perspective, but Frei made a brilliant save on a header attempt.

As the game entered the stretch run, the Sounders started to get fresh legs on the field in an effort to pick up the pace and find that magical goal. Pentz passed along all the substitutions for Seattle: 

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Andy Rose replaces Gonzalo Pineda. Fresh legs all over the Seattle midfield

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Azira for Alonso for Seattle. Gordon for Ishizaki for L.A. 74 minutes gone

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Pappa comes on for Neagle, who has looked gassed. The third and final Seattle sub

The Andy Rose substitution almost worked perfectly, as Pentz described:

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Big-game Andy Rose flashes a shot/cross across the goal mouth. Stadium-wide gasp. Still L.A. holds on

The LA Galaxy noted just how close Seattle came to picking up the critical goal:

LA Galaxy @LAGalaxy

WOWOWOWOW! Sounders almost made it 3-1. #SEAvLA http://t.co/lwOVpka3GJ

Four minutes of stoppage time were added after Dempsey sailed a shot over the crossbar in the final minutes. Seattle had a couple more quality chances, although Donovan did as well on the other side, but the scoring was done for the day.

Stone attempted to summarize the somewhat-confusing tiebreaker rules:

Larry Stone @StoneLarry

Sounders win 2-1 tonight but draw 2-2 in aggregate and lose the series on the tiebreaker, which was LA’s road goal. Got all that?

The MLS Twitter feed then set the stage for what's to come next, and Galaxy fans have to be thrilled that the MLS Cup is at Los Angeles' home stadium:

Major League Soccer @MLS

The 2014 #MLSCup final is set. #LAvNE http://t.co/tTPDFFPa2f

Major League Soccer @MLS

Western Conference Champs. #MLSPlayoffs #FirstToFive http://t.co/UwKr67mEa7

As mentioned, Los Angeles has not won away from home for six matches, but that no longer matters with one game to win it all in front of its fans.

Another championship would be an incredible way for Donovan to end his career.

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