The trouble with squaring up between long-time colleagues is that each knows all of the other’s moves. That was the case for Brian Schmetzer’s Seattle Sounders at the Stub Hub Center Saturday night, when the LA Galaxy, under newly appointed head coach Sigi Schmid, struggled to a scoreless draw, matching one another at every turn.
Having won the Gold Cup with the USMNT Wednesday, Clint Dempsey returned to the starting lineup, slotting into the middle with Nicolas Lodeiro, while Jordan Morris, who scored the game-winner for the U.S. in the 88th minute of the final against Jamaica, began on the bench in favor of starting Will Bruin at striker.
Thanks to the tight, organized defending Schmid’s teams are known for, however, Seattle (8-7-7, 31 points), was often bogged down in midfield as the teams failed to connect crosses in the final third.
For every promising moment, momentum would not sway either way. Cristian Roldan combined with Dempsey through the middle with a series of quick passes, but Roldan’s shot zipped over the crossbar. Gyasi Zardes of the Galaxy (6-10-5, 23 points) floated up and won a free header from a cross from the left side of the field, but his effort was stopped by a diving save from Seattle keeper Stefan Frei.
Dempsey sent a bicycle kick toward net, only to be flagged for being offside, while LA’s Giovani dos Santos nearly scored on a corner kick before the officials ruled he had batted the ball with his hand.
The Sounders had a 17-13 advantage in shots, while the Galaxy made 24 defensive clearances to Seattle’s 23. Even the possession battle finished level, the Sounders controlling the ball for 50.8 percent of the match.
The only lead the Galaxy finished with was in the category of discipline. LA received four yellow cards, including two to defender Jelle Van Damme, who was sent off in the 86th minute by referee Armando Villareal for a reckless sliding challenge on Lodeiro.
Seattle is unbeaten in its last six matches, and now has a week off before going to Minneapolis for its first match against Minnesota United FC Aug. 5 (5 p.m., Q13 Fox).