Backing your way into a showpiece event like the MLS Cup Final is not something that the View from Avalon encourages. And yet, that was what Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy did. Riding on a three-goal lead in the first leg, Los Angeles fell 2-1 to Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders, but prevailed 4-2 on aggregate to win the 2012 MLS Western Conference title.
Awaiting the Galaxy are Dominic Kinnear’s Houston Dynamo in a rematch of last year’s clash. Landon Donovan was the reason why LA prevailed at the Home Depot Center last year, and he was nowhere to be seen in the second leg. In fact, he was not even on the bench. Donovan was a mere observer to the proceedings, and his lack of presence meant that the Galaxy would struggle to get a result at a venue where it is tough to get wins these days in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
With that said, let’s take a look at the player ratings for the Los Angeles Galaxy against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
Josh Saunders 6
Despite giving up two goals in this second leg, Josh Saunders was able to make three big saves and was a workhorse late in the second half against the Sounders. In these wet conditions, Saunders had to weather the storm. The hope here is that the weather will be much better in Carson on the first of December. Passable performance, not overly impressive.
Todd Dunivant 5.5
Todd Dunivant gets minus points for an awful pass success rate (58 percent), but it’s tempered by decent defensive stats on the Opta Chalkboard. Dunivant had four interceptions, four clearances and nine recoveries. Dunivant also had a successful cross, a lay off and a header.
Tommy Meyer 6.5
This was a tough game in the rain for Tommy Meyer, who wasn’t very good with his passing (58 percent, same as Dunivant). In addition, he nearly surrendered a goal by Eddie Johnson which was called back for offsides. But this rookie get a bonus for impressive defensive stats: five interceptions, 11 clearances, a couple of blocked crosses and six recoveries.
Omar Gonzalez 6
Omar Gonalzez gets minus points for surrendering a goal to Eddie Johnson in the first half while managing a putrid 53 percent pass success rate. However, he was effective in stopping a number of waves of attacks from the Seattle forwards and midfielders. Defensively, Gonzo had seven interceptions, nine clearance and five recoveries. Gonzalez also had eight headers and a key pass.
Sean Franklin 5.5
Sean Franklin, like the rest of the Los Angeles backline, struggled with his passing, managing a dismal 55 percent pass success rate. To his credit, Franklin had seven headers, five clearances and four recoveries. A much more consistent effort from Franklin will be required on Dec. 1.
David Beckham 7
One thing about David Beckham that I liked was his passing. Compared to just everyone else on the back line, Beckham’s pass success rate was 76 percent, which is impressive given the conditions. Beckham also had two interceptipons, two clearances, six lay offs, five headers, a key pass and 14 recoveries. Even though Beckham did not generate any successful offensive sequences, his work rate and impact in terms of distribution and defense softened the blow on Sunday for LA.
Mike Magee 5.5
This was not one of Mike Magee’s better performances. Magee and Landon Donovan are a solid tandem and without LD in the lineup, Magee struggled against the Sounders. In spite of a passable 74 percent pass success rate, Magee’s only major contributions were his nine recoveries and three headers.
Marcelo Sarvas 6
Marcelo Sarvas was responsible for letting Zach Scott get open and score Seattle’s second goal of the game on Sunday. Sarvas gets minus points for an awful pass success rate (51 percent), but he gets bonus points for his six headers, eight interceptions, five clearances and seven recoveries.
Juninho gets a bonus for an impressive 92 percent pass success rate. In his limited time on the pitch, the young Brazilian also had three interceptions, two clearances, three headers and two recoveries. A question now for Juninho now will be if he gets a chance to start on the day of the final against the Dynamo.
Christian Wilhelmsson 4.5
This was an awful, awful night for Christian Wilhelmsson. A 77 percent pass success rate was compounded by only two clearances, three recoveries, three headers, and losing duels left and right. It was difficult for the View from Avalon to hold Chippen’s performance in a positive light; he didn’t have it on Sunday. But he wasn’t the only one.
Edson Buddle 4.5
The only good trait regarding Edson Buddle is his hold-up play, but that’s pretty much it. Buddle had four unsuccessful flick-ons, seven headers, only four clearances, and two recoveries to go with a 62 percent pass success rate. Buddle was taken out of his game early, and Seattle’s backline didn’t have to do much to take him out of the equation altogether.
Robbie Keane 8
Robbie Keane is the View from Avalon’s Man of the Match for not only drawing a penalty on Seattle’s Adam Johansson, but also converting the spot kick for his fifth goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs. His leadership as the vice captain has paid dividends, despite a 78 percent pass success rate. Keane also had five lay offs and seven recoveries. Perhaps the biggest effort of the night: quickly lifting the Western Conference Trophy, then ordering the entire team to the dressing room. True leadership.
A more consistent effort from Keane will be required in the 2012 MLS Cup Final.
Michael Stephens NR
Came into the game late, no rating given.