Minus injured Clint Dempsey, the Sounders lacked the finish needed to convert many good looks Sunday as they fell 1-0 to the Galaxy in Los Angeles. The defending MLS champs (2-2-2) were on a four-game winless streak but got well against Seattle (2-2-1), which has been knocked out of the playoffs three times in the past five seasons by their nemesis.
Alan Gordon, starting in place of the Galaxy’s own injured star, Robbie Keane, last season’s MVP, scored in the 23rd minute off a set piece when Omar Gonzalez delivered a long header.
Gordon’s own header slipped between a lunging GK Stefan Frei and the near post. The score ended a streak of two consecutive shutouts and was the Galaxy’s 24th consecutive win at StubHub Center, which drew a sellout of 27,000 for the first of three matches between the two winningest franchises since Seattle entered MLS in 2009.
“I think we were as good if not better for good portions of the game (than LA) but that is how the game goes sometimes,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “Last week (against Houston) I didn’t think we played really well and we walked off the field 1-0 winners. This week I thought we played pretty well.
“I thought we had more clean-cut chances. Their goalkeeper comes up with a ton of saves. Some hit him and some saves he makes and we end up losing. I don’t think based on our performance we deserve to lose.”
Galaxy GK Jaime Penedo had a career-high 10 saves against repeated quality chances from the Sounders, who also had the misfortune of aiming nearly all shots right at the 33-year-old Panamanian international. Lamar Neagle, starting up top in place of Dempsey, who stayed home with a sore hamstring, had three shots turned away in the first half.
“It is a frustrating game, knowing that we played pretty well and were in control of the game in the beginning and then one free kick changes things,” Neagle said. “It seemed like we were getting the bulk of the chances and not being able to finish. Some of them were a little bit ridiculous — on our part, and on (Pineda’s) part.”
The Sounders were also missing Gonzalo Pineda, sitting out after a red card suspension from the Houston game. Starting in his place was Christian Roldan, 19, of the University of Washington.
Brad Evans was named to the 22-man roster of the U.S. Men’s National Team for a friendly match Wednesday in San Antonio, but Dempsey was left off the squad, apparently for injury reasons. Two players will make the long trek from Europe to Texas for the match — former Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin, fresh off his Tottenham debut, and Hamburg winger Julian Green . . . LA leads the all-time series 7-4-5 . . . Only Dempsey and Obafemi Martins have scored for the Sounders this season.
With Dempsey expected to return, the Sounders play at Colorado at 6 p.m. Saturday. The teams will meet again Aug. 9 in Los Angeles and Oct. 4 in Seattle.