BY SPNW Staff 10:37PM 09/21/2013

No Dempsey, no Donovan; Sounders draw in LA

An intense, rugged scrap between two of MLS’s best ended in a 1-1 draw Saturday night as the Los Angeles Galaxy poured on pressure in the last five minutes but failed to get a winner past the Sounders defense. The Western Conference leaders were denied a club-record sixth straight win, but they gained a point on second-place Real Salt Lake, which lost earlier.

Each team played minus a star becaause of injury: the Sounders’ Clint Dempsey stayed home because of a hamstring strained in practice Friday, and the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan tried to run in warmups, but a sprained ankle kept him out.

The Sounders were out to avenge a 4-0 loss in May to the Galaxy at StubHub Center in Carson, CA., and had a good start on it in the 25th minute. Eddie Johnson burst away from his defender to leap high at a perfect corner kick from Mauro Rosales and headed in an easy score from eight yards. It was the first Sounders score in the past five matches on LA’s home pitch.

The Sounders nearly had one foot in the halftime locker room with the 1-0 lead when defender Zach Scott was yellow-carded for a rough takedown in stoppage time, one of 19 fouls called on Seattle. The free kick by Juninho that tied the game was a beauty, a top-spin shot just over the defensive wall and just inside the near post beyond the reach of GK Michael Gspurning.

That’s how the scoring ended, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the Galaxy, playing in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 and eager to gain ground on a possible playoff opponent.

They had a 12-7 shot advantage and 7-2 on goal. The Sounders were fortunate to come away with a draw, particularly when Scott drew his second yellow and an automatic ejection in second-half stoppage time. The player he fouled, reserve Laurent Courtois, took the free kick, but his high and wide shot gave the Galaxy no chance.

The Galaxy kept pressure on in stoppage time with their man advantage. After a scramble, Gyasi Zardes broke free with the ball and had a tight but clear angle on the goal. His shot from 12 yards went into the side net.

In the 92nd minute, Johnson took a hard fall after a collision and injured his left shoulder but stayed in the game.

In the 82nd minute some sideline theater occurred when coach Sigi Schmid subbed out Obefemi Martins for Marc Burch. Martins glared from the field at Schmid, then came out and walked past him without word or glance.

The Sounders (15-8-5) remained atop MLS and the two-time defending champion Galaxy (13-10-6)  remained desperate to make the playoffs, from where they eliminated the Sounders in 2010 and 2012. The Sounders are 11-4-2 since the big loss to the Galaxy, who are 5-3-3 against the Sounders, and 5-0-2 at home.


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