LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders: Winners and Losers from MLS Game
The LA Galaxy pulled out a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at the StubHub Center on Sunday night in the first of three clashes between the two sides this season.
Bruce Arena's side jumped into the lead in the 23rd minute, when Alan Gordon scored on an open header following a free-kick.
The defending MLS Cup champions held on to their lead, thanks to a stunning performance in goal by Jaime Penedo, who made 10 saves in the club's second victory of the season.
Here's a look at the winners and losers from LA's home triumph over Seattle.
Winner: Jaime Penedo
Penedo delivered a man-of-the-match performance on Sunday night, with 10 saves in between the pipes.
His first two major interactions came in the 10th minute, when he made two consecutive denials on Lamar Neagle and Chad Marshall.
Two minutes before the Galaxy struck the back of the net, Penedo handed them a bit of momentum with a 21st-minute stop on a Neagle attempt on target.
After making six saves in the first half, Penedo made his best stop of the match in the 53rd minute on an incoming Andy Rose attempt from just a few yards out. Rose's shot hit the Panamanian's body after Neagle provided the midfielder with a splendid cross from the right wing.
Penedo's 10 saves set a new high for the Panama international in MLS. He recorded seven earlier in the season against Vancouver.
However, he did not set the franchise record for saves. That honor is held by Kevin Hartman, who made 11 stops in 2003, per LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano.
Loser: Obafemi Martins
Without his partner in crime, Clint Dempsey, next to him at the top of Seattle's 4-4-2, Obafemi Martins struggled to provide a major threat for all 90 minutes.
Martins did make 46 touches for the green-clad Sounders, but he only attempted two shots on goal in the defeat, per WhoScored.com.
Although players such as Neagle and Marco Pappa found a bit of space to work with on the wings in the attacking half, Martins was unable to connect with their crosses for long stretches of the match.
Once Dempsey returns to the fold, one has to think the Seattle forward duo will once again fire on all cylinders and provide Seattle with a plethora of goals.
Winner: Omar Gonzalez
While Penedo will receive most of the credit for the Galaxy's defensive showing, Omar Gonzalez deserves some recognition as well.
The United States defender disrupted most of Seattle's surges forward during the showdown between two of the top sides in MLS.
One of the little things Gonzalez got right in the first half was his positioning when Pappa advanced forward on the left wing. Gonzalez may not have gotten his head on some of the Guatemalan's crosses, but his height did affect Pappa's errant passes.
The towering defender also earned an assist on the lone goal of the match, when he nodded the ball from left to right and on to the head of Gordon for the winner.
Loser: Lamar Neagle
Despite turning in a solid performance on the road for the Sounders, Neagle came up short in his quest for a goal.
Neagle attempted six shots, five of which were on target, but he could not put one past Penedo before he was substituted off in the 73rd minute.
Although he did put in a good shift in the final third, Neagle only made 35 touches for a side that needed a bit more from its midfield playmaker without Dempsey in the lineup.
While it may seem harsh to include Neagle as a loser, most of the Sounders players will probably tell you they needed to do better against one of their main rivals for the Western Conference crown.
Winner: Alan Gordon
Gordon broke loose on a set piece and scored with his head in the 23rd minute of the Galaxy's second victory of the season. The MLS veteran escaped Rose's marking with ease and drifted toward the right side of the box, where he perfectly connected with Gonzalez's headed pass from the left.
The strike helped mark a special occasion for the former San Jose Earthquakes player, as he also earned his 200th MLS appearance on Sunday night.
Gordon may not have been an attacking dynamo for every second of the match, but he did what the Seattle players couldn't over the span of 90 minutes. With his goal and Robbie Keane out injured, Gordon once again proved the Galaxy have a reliable scoring option waiting in the wings if he is needed.
Winner: Cristian Roldan
If he continues to play like he did Sunday night, Cristian Roldan will be a permanent starter in manager Sigi Schmid's lineup by the end of the season.
The rookie from the University of Washington displayed a ton of poise in the middle of the pitch against experienced players such as Juninho.
Roldan also showed off his cheeky passing ability in the 67th minute, when his impressive ball missed a surging Pappa by inches.
Although it may take a few more games for him to supplant Gonzalo Pineda, Neagle or Pappa for a starting role, Roldan could end up being a key figure off the bench for the Sounders in the coming weeks. If he shines in that role, Roldan might even receive a call from United States U-20 boss Tab Ramos about a spot on the U-20 World Cup roster.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.