MLS: Juninho, Josh Saunders, Los Angeles Galaxy Escape Seattle with 1-0 victory

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IMarch 16, 2011

Maybe it was the timing for Blaise Nkufo getting the boot one hour before kickoff. Maybe it was the fact that it was a rainy night on a rainy surface in one of the rainiest cities in America.

Maybe it was the fact that Seattle blew all their chances to send one through the net.

Or maybe it was the fact that Josh Saunders and Juninho delivered in the clutch for Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy, who shut out the Seattle Sounders 1-0 before a hostile sellout crowd at Qwest Field in MLS FirstKick.

You know what? I'll go ahead and do a favor for you lot here on Bleacher Report and the View. I'll take Saunders and Juninho delivering over the other two.

First, let's talk about Saunders. After Donovan Ricketts went down with an injury in their club friendly with Club Tijuana, Saunders was thrust into the limelight once again.

In front of one of the most hostile environments in the league, Saunders was ready and made stop after stop after stop. Of course, it did help that some of the shots he couldn't parry missed the net anyway.

That leads us to Juninho. Can somebody from Sao Paolo FC just do the right thing and give the Galaxy the rights to Juninho and Leonardo already?

Todd Dunivant found the streaking Brazilian in the middle of Seattle's defensive third and caught the Sounders' back line napping for a wonder strike with good pace past Kasey Keller in the 58th minute.

Juninho could have made it a brace later on in the second half, but his next opportunity went high off the mark.

O'Brian White, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani and Alvaro Fernandez had numerous chances to convert. All failed.

There is no conspiracy, no "Curse of Blaise Nkufo", no hoodoo mumbo jumbo: The Sounders just could not finish, plain and simple.

That isn't to say the Galaxy were fluid offensively. On the contrary, David Beckham was off on his set pieces, though the wet conditions may have something to do with that.

Whenever there is rain, rain and more rain, you have to rely on your defense to get the job done.

The Galaxy back line of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza (filling in for Omar Gonzalez), Leonardo and Todd Dunivant could have used their skill at dispossessing the attack last season. Thankfully, they were able to exorcise the demons from last year and end a three-game losing streak which included defeats to FC Dallas, Newcastle Jets and Club Tijuana.

It was almost clockwork, the way the midfielders and the backline took away possession. This Galaxy team is far from reaching midseason form—well, it IS the first game of the season, after all—but the shades of it are beginning to sprout for Bruce Arena's club.

The interesting thing now for the G's is that they get a short turnaround before they open up their home campaign against the New England Revolution on Sunday, March 20.

Building on the production they got from Juninho will be a priority, with many ready to open up their scoring accounts on Victoria Street.

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Galavision and Prime Ticket on tape delay.


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