CARSON, Calif. – This matchup is as close to over as they get, but you won't hear any members of the LA Galaxy admitting that.
The reigning MLS champions beat the Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the first leg of the Western Conference final.
"It's a good start for us, but it's just that – a start," Todd Dunivant said. "By no means are we looking past Seattle."
As long as Los Angeles can avoid losing by three or more goals next Sunday, it will advance to the MLS Cup final for the second year in a row.
"We're not foolish enough to believe that this thing's over," Bruce Arena said.
Players quickly pitched in memories of bigger comebacks. Christian Wilhelmsson was part of the Sweden team that came back from four goals down to draw 4-4 with Germany. Dunivant pointed out that the Sounders nearly overturned a three-goal deficit against Real Salt Lake last year in the playoffs. Both Duinvant and Landon Donovan were on the 2003 San Jose Earthquakes that at one point trailed the Galaxy by four goals before advancing 5-4 on aggregate in the playoffs.
"This is far from over," Donovan warned. "I myself have been apart of bigger comebacks than this. We have a long ways to go still."
Additionally, the Sounders beat LA 4-0 the last time the two teams met in CenturyLink Field, and 2-0 the time before that.
"There's no reason why they can't do that again," Donovan said.
However, the performance to earn the lead was commanding. LA scored seconds before halftime through Keane and added two goals in three minutes midway through the second half to seal the match.
Arena compared the game to the 3-1 win to beat the Earthquakes in Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday and preferred this performance.
"Yes, the 90 in San Jose was good," Arena said. "Tonight was more complete. I think we were a little sloppy in the last 15 minutes in San Jose, but tonight was better, so that's encouraging."
"Still, it wasn't good enough, if you ask me," Wilhelmsson said.
With the Galaxy having several chances to make the deficit insurmountable for Seattle, there was room for improvement. Wilhelmsson notably had a chance blocked at the last moment by Alex Caskey, and Jeff Parke cleared another chance off the line.
"We were looking at blood in the water and trying to push for as many goals as we could," Dunivant said.
Donovan added: "When you have a team down, you have to bury them."
Should the Galaxy finish the job and advance to the cup final, they would face either D.C. United or the Houston Dynamo, who took a 3-1 first-leg lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We're not even thinking about that yet," David Beckham said.
Because the location of the MLS Cup final depends on the team with the better regular season record, only if Houston advances would the Galaxy host. "We'll take it if we can get it," Dunivant said. But Arena isn't too fussed about which stadium hosts, as long as his side plays in it.
"If we made it to the MLS Cup I'd be happy to be playing anywhere, whether it's home or away," Arena said. "I think that would be a great accomplishment. I'm well aware of the fact that it's not going to be easy to get there."
No one is discounting Seattle just yet, "because as we know in football it's a funny old game and anything can happen," Keane said. But unless Seattle pulls off as big an upset as the 2012 playoffs have seen, Galaxy will advance.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Seattle Sounders
- Bruce Arena
- Landon Donovan
- Todd Dunivant
- Christian Wilhelmsson