SEATTLE, Wash. - Eddie Johnson scored his first playoff goal and Zach Scott tallied a goal and assist in a 2-1 Sounders FC win in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, but the LA Galaxy advance, 4-2, on aggregate after a 3-0 win in the first leg.
The LA Galaxy will now host the Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on December 1.
Sounders FC got on the board in the 12th minute. Scott won a 50-50 ball and played it ahead to Johnson on a run down the middle of the field. The striker held off the defense and slotted a shot past Los Angeles keeper Josh Saunders for his first career playoff goal.
Seattle made it 2-0 in the 57th minute when Christian Tiffert’s corner kick found Scott at the near post for a diving header that whipped into the back of the net.
Scott, who had one goal and one assist in his MLS career (both this season), matched his career total with three points tonight. The 32-year-old defender now has three goals across all competitions in 2012, including a goal in the U.S. Open Cup Final.
With Seattle down 3-2 on aggregate, the Galaxy extended their lead in the 68th minute on a penalty kick. Robbie Keane, who had two goals and an assist in the first leg, converted the penalty kick after a Sounders FC handball in the box.
Seattle pressed all game, maintaining 62.7% of the possession and out-shooting the Galaxy 13-5 and 5-2 on goal. Johnson appeared to have scored a goal in the 11th minute, but was flagged offside. In the 16th minute, Steve Zakuani’s shot was deflected to Tiffert on the right side of the box, and the German midfielder sent a cross that found Fredy Montero but his header was saved.
In the 88th minute, Tiffert’s free kick from outside the box bent through the defense, but right into the arms of Saunders. In second half stoppage David Estrada got a running header on frame, but Saunders punched it clear.
The win gave Sounders FC its third playoff victory in franchise history as the club reached the Western Conference Championship for the first time.
Tonight’s attendance of 44,575 was the largest attendance for non-final postseason match, and the sixth largest postseason attendance in MLS history.
Sounders FC finishes their season with an all competitions record of 26-10-13, accruing the most wins across all competitions of any MLS club in 2012.
Seattle will return to action in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Tigres of the Mexican Primera Division next March.
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy – November 18, 2012
Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Coach
(On the game…) “First of all, congratulations to LA for getting to the MLS Cup Final. Obviously, the damage was done to us in game number one. I thought tonight we came out and played with good resolve, good energy. I thought we had a goal early from Eddie Johnson-I haven’t seen the replay so I don’t know if it was on or offside. Some people have said that it was on-that would have helped us. We had some good chances beyond that. We got one goal, got another goal early in the second half. We felt we were in pretty good shape being down two-nothing that we could get the third. I thought the penalty kick was a little bit of a harsh call, especially when you think of last week in LA, Sean Franklin had a hand ball in the box 15 minutes in and there was no call. That’s the way it seems to have gone for us a little bit this season. Again, we had some good looks and some good chances, scored a goal on a set piece which we thought was important. We tried to get some legs on at the end.”
(On 2012 being the club’s first year without a trophy…) “Well we got further [in the playoffs]. Maybe we’re the kind of team that’s got to go one step each year. The progress is, for me, the last six playoff games we’ve played last year and this year, we’ve won three. We’ve won three, we’ve tied one, we’ve lost two. The problem is the ones we lose, we lose three-nothing and we bury ourselves with that loss, but we’re winning 50-percent more of our playoff games. We’re showing the capabilities that we can win games, we just need to eliminate the losses by the size they are. LA lost their first playoff game against San Jose and came back to win. If we lost one-nothing in LA, we’d still be out there on the field playing.”
(On hand ball that caused the penalty kick…) “I thought it was a harsh call because there was nobody in the box, he wasn’t passing it to anybody, all [Robbie] Keane was looking to do was maybe draw a penalty and hit it into his hand. He’s a clever player, and he did well, but on the same token it’s like-an intentional hand ball is taking away an opportunity, what opportunity was there? There was no opportunity, he just purposely, clever move on his part, and I don’t know how far out [Adam] Johansson’s hand was or anything. Sometimes common sense might say that’s not a PK, whereas in the case down in LA, Zach Scott crossed the ball and Franklin leaves his arm out and keeps the cross from going over and we had people in the box. Different, but clever on his part.”
(On taking Fredy Montero out…) “I just thought we needed a little more energy. I thought David [Estrada] could give us some of that. David had a good opportunity to finish towards the end, as well. Fredy had some opportunities in the first half, we just felt we needed to put a little more pressure on their goalkeeper chase, get some fresh legs in there.”
(On the biggest difference between this game and the first game…) “I think we stayed with our tactical plan. Obviously, when they don’t have [Landon] Donovan there, they’re not as dangerous, so that helps us a little bit going into it. I thought we did a better job of making sure that they didn’t get out on the counter on us. That was something we didn’t do well in LA in that second half. The other thing was being able to have two strikers from the get-go, put some pressure on them helped us, as well.”
(On Mauro Rosales being a last-minute addition to the 18…) “Yesterday when he had trained, he felt he needed to be 100% going into this game, didn’t feel he was quite 100% when he trained before the game today. Everybody felt he looked good and I went back to him and said, ‘Look, maybe I need you for 15-20 minutes, can you play?’ And he said yeah, so we changed that around. Yesterday he didn’t feel quite up to it, today he felt better about it.”
(On Zach Scott’s game…) “Obviously, he scored a great header on the corner, he gave a good pass to Eddie for the assist. I thought Zach was pretty solid, thought it was one of, if not his best game of the year. I thought he was very good. He was good defensively and he was good with the ball.”
(On his message to the team after the game and looking forward…) “The general message to the team was we have to eliminate those three-nothing losses in the playoffs because we’re showing that we can win playoff games. That was the general message to them, to understand that we did make progress this year and we went one step further, but obviously at this stage we’re all disappointed. We need to make sure that the energy with which we played tonight is the energy we play with all the time. Sometimes that’s hard over the course of a 34-game season, but it’s something that we need to bring all the time.”
(On how the result affects his plans for the offseason…) “You should never make your decisions based upon one game. You make your decisions based upon the season, so you look at what somebody’s give you over the season-consistency of effort, quality of play, all of those things and you make decisions based upon that. In this league, you also have to make decisions based upon the salary cap. Does it work or does it not work?”
(On a fourth place and a fifth place team playing for the MLS Cup…) “It’s always been like that. Last year when the Galaxy won the Supporter’s Shield and the MLS Cup, I think that hadn’t happened for four years prior to that, I think it was us in Columbus in 2008, and prior to that it was the Galaxy in 2002. When you look at it, in the last 10 years the team that won the Supporter’s Shield has only won the cup three times. That’s what the playoffs are. Are the best teams always in the Super Bowl? I don’t think the New York Giants were the best team over the regular season last year, so that’s what happens. It’s a separate competition.”
Eddie Johnson – Sounders FC Forward
(On how he felt after the goal went in…) “It felt good. We knew that in order to give ourselves a chance we were going to have to have a good start to the game. We would have really liked to get two before halftime, but we just couldn’t get that second goal. I felt like we controlled the game from the first whistle until the end of the game, but sometimes in life you work so hard, but things just don’t go your way. I know each one of us can look ourselves in the mirror and know that we gave it our all. We played a complete game, and we couldn’t have done anything better. We wouldn’t change anything about tonight. We created chances, we worked hard, and we put [LA] on our terms, but sometimes in soccer calls just don’t go your way. [Robbie] Keane has been on fire throughout the second part of the season, and in the playoffs, and big players step up in big moments. He kind of put a stab in our hearts at that moment. We worked so hard, and we finally felt like we had gotten ourselves back in the game, and it was just painful today. Credit to them though, they did what they needed to do in the first game. It was tough to get back.”
(On what the season meant to him…) “This was a good opportunity for me. I couldn’t ask to be on a better team, in a better environment, or in a more professional organization. We have a good coach, a good group of guys, and if it wasn’t for these guys, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today. Coming in as the new guy is difficult. Sometimes it take you a season to adapt to the type of play that they like to play, but we had a good group of guys, and they have been spot on with me every day.”
(On what was there tonight that was missing last week…) “We had a good 45 minutes in LA, but we just couldn’t finish our chances. I think tonight we got opportunities and finished them. I think the hunger in the box, and making the most out of our opportunities was the difference tonight. I think that we always respond when we are facing adversity. We always know how to turn things around, and we couldn’t have asked anymore from ourselves. We did everything right tonight.”
(What was the hardest part about tonight…) “We just worked so hard. Everyone had individual goals, and mine was to win an MLS Cup. I have never won an MLS Cup and I don’t know what it feels like. We were lucky enough to work with Jim Madrid, a sports psychologist, and he always told us to write down affirmations. Yeah we want to win an MLS Cup, but what does it feel like to win? How do we get there? What do we have to do? Before every game I ask myself those questions. How can I be effective tonight? What do I have to do to help the team win? I think the fact that we aren’t going to the MLS Cup is the most painful thing tonight. We all cry, we all have feelings, and we are all human beings. That really hurt today man, it still hurts. I’m probably going to cry some more later on, but its soccer, there is no success without failure. We will get it right next year.”
Zach Scott – Sounders FC Defender
(On the result…) “It played out kind of the way we expected it to. We were going to put them under a lot of pressure in a tight game. We really wanted to get near the goal, and we had a chance to get two of the goals. We got the one that we needed to keep the momentum going our way. We knew we were going to get a goal on a set piece, and we were fortunate there. It was a big whole to climb out of, and I think we all realize the importance of playing to zero on the road. So I think we are a bit disappointed there, that we found ourselves in such a big hole, and in the end we wanted to leave it all on the field.”
(On difference between this week and last week…) “We were a little relaxed at times in L.A, I don’t think we necessarily played bad, but I think we gave a little too much time and a little too much space. Today, we played with the right mentality, the right approach to the game, but it was something we needed to do, and it was a little too late.”
Steve Zakuani – Seattle Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the importance of tonight…) “Tonight was important. I love this city, I love this organization, and I love the fans we have here. It hurts me as much as it hurts anyone else, but I think we just need to take this offseason step by step and see what happens. I was just happy to get back on the field tonight. I wanted to show that nobody is going to question whether I can still play or not. I don’t think anyone can ask that question anymore. I gave it all for the team tonight.”
(On how you felt tonight…) “You can go back to every game before I was injured and you won’t find a better performance than I gave tonight. Tonight was an important game. It was arguably the biggest game in the franchise’s history, because we were that close. I think everybody stepped their game up, and we had to. I think we gave everything we had against LA, and it is just unfortunate that we dug such a big hole. You just cannot do that against a quality team like LA. We had the ball in the net three times like we needed to. I don’t think Eddie [Johnson] was offside. I haven’t seen the replay, but I was right there, and from what I saw he was onside. We were up two goals, but then there was the penalty. I haven’t seen it, but whether it was or wasn’t a goal, it just killed our momentum. We had quality chances, and everyone gave all they had. I wish we would have won he game, but I am just happy to be back on the pitch playing soccer. All Sounders tonight should hold their head high, because we got farther than we ever have, and we have a good group of players. We are a team to be reckoned with. LA has a very good group of players, they have beaten most teams in this league, and we are proud of what we did well.”
(On how it feels to do so much and still come up short…) “It was too much of a hole. I still think that we could have beat LA, but you cannot get Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham a three goal lead coming into the game. If they gave us that same lead it would have been the same result for them. You cannot give quality players a three goal start. Playing them at 0-0 is hard enough. We came back and did the same thing we did against Salt Lake last year, we came back and showed that they aren’t a team that is three goals better than us.”
Bruce Arena – LA Galaxy Head Coach
(On general game impressions…) “Well we didn’t play particularly well tonight; there’s no question about that. We did what we came here to do, to advance into the MLS Cup finals, so that was achieved. Obviously the conditions were difficult, with the surface and the rain and Seattle played quite well, no question about that. Having said all that, we won this competition 4-2 and deserve to move forward. We’ve got a couple weeks to get ready for a real good team. Houston’s in terrific form right now, so it’s going to be a heck of a challenging final.”
(On whether he feels his team escaped…) “There were a lot of tense moments. No, I don’t feel we escaped anything. We won 4-2 on aggregate; what’s there to escape from?”
(On whether the penalty kick converted to a goal by Keane was a legitimate penalty…) “I didn’t see it, so I couldn’t tell you. But even if we don’t get the penalty, we still advance 3-2 then.”
(On the status of Keane’s goal and on the performance of the two clubs…) “A game like tonight, you need someone to make a play. No question, we were not in good form tonight. We didn’t play particularly well. We couldn’t pass the ball. Seattle battled great. They competed hard and won a bunch of second balls and put us under a lot of pressure.
(On Keane’s overall performance and his thoughts on the Sounders…) “Robbie [Keane] worked hard. We had to have guys doing things that they’re not accustomed to necessarily, and Robbie had to chase the ball a lot tonight, and did what we expect a player of his quality to do in a game like this and these kind of conditions. We prevailed. We knew it was going to be difficult coming in here, and it certainly was. I give our team credit for advancing, and certainly give Seattle a lot of credit. Sigi [Schmid] does a terrific job with this team and they can continue to be one of the premier franchises in the MLS.”
(On what Seattle did to make things difficult for his team…) “I just think that they could take a lot of risk. They’re a little bit more comfortable on this surface than we are, but they pressured us for every ball. They positioned themselves better and were much more aggressive for second balls. Basically, on the night, they outworked us.”
(On Marcelo Sarvas’ performance and on Juninho and Landon Donovan…) “It was a solid performance. We really missed Juninho, and I thought Juninho did a terrific job in his 25 to 30 minutes – I don’t know exactly what he played – probably 25 minutes. He did a very good job. We wanted to be careful with him tonight, as we did with Landon [Donovan]. If it was a Cup Final tonight, Landon probably would have played, but we wanted to try to do the smart thing and not put him out for the rest of the season.”
(On the first 20 minutes…) “Yeah, we didn’t do well. We didn’t pass well tonight, we didn’t win second balls, and that was the difference. You know, you’ve got to give Seattle credit. They’re behind three goals and they’ve gotta lay it all on the line and be very aggressive and be a little bit risky, which they were with their line. And the conditions certainly helped, because it was a little bit difficult, passing the ball, and you could see our players are not fully confident on the surface, but that’s our problem, not theirs.”
(On what he said to his team after the game…)”I didn’t say a whole lot. We know we didn’t play particularly well. We knew it would be challenging, and the objective here was to advance to the MLS Cup Finals and that was accomplished.”
Marcelo Sarvas – LA Galaxy Midfielder
(On his great play in tonight’s game…) “I was just trying to do my job. I have the type of personality to try to keep the guys up and I think it worked very well. Of course we knew coming here it was going to be a hrad game. Seattle played a fantastic game today and it was a great game.”
(On him chasing most of the night…) “I have to destroy you know. I have to run off the ball and destroy. so i think I did my job.”
(On how the first 20 minutes of the game had got away from them and how did they regroup…) “The first 20 minutes of the first half was very hard. They came and scored their very first goal in like 13 minutes, and also their fans put them more in the game. We had to calm down, but it was a really hard game.”
Josh Saunders – LA Galaxy Goalkeeper
(On how rewarding it is to be where they are now after the tough season…) “It’s extremely rewarding and it goes to show you the chemistry and character of our team. We all support each other and we all want to win.”
(On if there was a time in the season where they thought they weren’t going to make the playoffs…) “I think early on it was a running joke, but we knew all along that we were going to pull through, and we did pull through.”
(On the MLS Finals against Houston…) “Houston is a great team. They were rewarded with their hard work and we look forward to seeing them in the finals.”
(On how frantic was he the first 20 minutes of the game where they just kept coming at him…) “It’s the type of thing that if you let it get to you it’s going to. You just have to let the play happen, calm yourself down, calm the team down, and just try and get forward after they get forward.”
(On if his team feeds off of his play…) “The biggest thing is supporting your guys. Just show them that you’re there, and you’re there to support them. Slow the game down a little bit here and there, and talk to them and give them confidence to play.”
Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy Defender
(On what Robbie Keane’s goal meant to the team…) “It was great, that’s exactly what we needed. We needed that extra goal. Two goals gives teams a lot of confidence, so to get that extra one was great for us. The way that he drew it was great and it was amazing.”
(On the job Robbie Keane did defensively…) “It was pretty funny seeing him coming back sliding through and stopping crosses. I thought it was fantastic and i think that is exactly what we needed. Everyone did a great job contributing.”
(On what changed in Seattle after that goal…) “I think they were a little deflated. I think you could see it on their faces, but you know that was only for like a minute and they kept on coming at us. They ended up with a couple more chances, and Josh Saunders did well on saving that one from David Estrada.”
(On the first 20 minutes of the game and how they handled Seattle coming at them…) “Once the game slowed down we tried to get going, but it was realy tough all night. I don’t think we were on and the times that we were you could see that we got some chances. We just needed more of that tonight.”
Referee Mark Geiger
(On why was the penalty called on Adam Johansson and how was this different from the handball incident with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the first half…) “Adam Johansson’s handling offense: The hand was in an unnatural playing position, and he was making himself bigger by taking space. His arms were outside of his body. [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado’s arm was next to his body, he was not making himself bigger, and this was a case of “ball-to-hand.”