Sounders Insider

Arena's halftime message: One goal to advance

LA GALAXY HEAD COACH BRUCE ARENAOn what it took to come back:“We played pretty well in the first half then a turn of events with a sloppy 10 minutes. I thought they came out fairly passive. We had control of the game, made a couple mistakes and they burned us for it. We told our guys at halftime that we just have to get a goal to advance. Juninho finally hit the goal this year. It was a great goal and we had to hang on for our lives at the end there. The field was difficult to play on tonight. The surface is really slick and challenging for both teams. It was just a matter of grinding it out and having the right mentality, and we accomplished that. This was not going to be easy, by no means, and it wasn’t, but we knew the rules.”

On what Juninho has meant this year:“He’s had a great year, a fabulous year, and oddly enough, didn’t score a goal for us untiltonight.”On the key to getting the win tonight :“Obviously that goal and then the way we were able to defend at the end. I give Stefan Frei a lotof credit. He came up with two big saves on Landon’s [Donovan] breakaway and [Stefan]Ishizaki’s header. That could’ve really put them away so he kept them in there. At the end, it gothectic when they sent [Chad] Marshall up and had a lot of big guys in front of the goal. Our guyshung in there and we managed to get the result that we needed.”

On LA’s defense:“When you play here under these conditions, you know there’s going to be some sloppy play,there’s going to be some crazy chances and possibly some crazy goals. We weren’t surprised,but again, knowing that if we got a goal back in the second half, we’d advance. We challengedthem early in the second half, got some good chances and then Juninho hit the back of the net.”

On advancing with a loss:“I don’t really care. We lost here two years ago, too, didn’t we? I didn’t make the rules, you know?The whole objective is to advance and get to the MLS Cup Final. We’ve accomplished that andwe’re going to have a real battle on our hands.”

On how they approached this game:“We tried to come in and win the game. We didn’t want to sit back, and we didn’t. We came outand were very aggressive. Obviously you know what the rule is and an away goal was important.Shutting Seattle out last week in the first leg was a big factor as well.”

On Omar Gonzalez:“Omar had a good game. I thought Dan Gargan and Leonardo played well. Robbie Rogers had atough night, but he’ll regroup and be ready for Sunday.”On the second half:“I was surprised. I thought the way Seattle came out in the first half, that they were just going tosit after halftime, drop their whole team back and make it difficult. But that game managed toopen up and certainly, once Juninho scored, it really opened up. We had some chances as wellto get the second goal.”

On Landon Donovan:“We didn’t change anything with Landon [Donovan] the whole game, he just played better in thesecond half. His second half was really good – his first half was so, so. That’s Landon. He’s agreat player. He’s an experienced guy. He’s able to deal with the ups and downs in a game andhe managed, over 90 minutes, to play real well. It was his running, his vision. He had to do a lotof defending tonight. Everybody did their share.”

On the team’s celebration:“To get this result and be in the Final at home, we’re proud of that. Again, we have a long weekahead of us to try to get our team recovered and ready to play a tough New England team.”

On if experience won this game:“Experience is a factor. We’ve been through this a lot this year and I think we’ve gotten better inthe second half of the season. We’ve been able to protect leads and we did a good job tonight.”

On if he still gets excited even though he’s been to several MLS Cups:“Yes. Yes.”On how this team compares to the others he’s taken to MLS Cup:“Don’t know yet. Until we get through this final game, then we’ll be able to summarize what wethink about this team and other teams. They have an opportunity to be the MLS champions so welook forward to that challenge. It’s going to be a tough game.”

LA GALAXY MIDFIELDER LANDON DONOVANOn where the win stacks-up:“We haven’t won anything yet so this is just another step along the way. The first part was theSalt Lake series, and now Seattle. Nobody has had to do it harder than we have. Those are twovery good teams. To beat the best team during the [regular] season in a series like this is verydifficult. Now we get one game at home to win a championship. If anybody had said at thebeginning of the year that was the opportunity, we would take it in a heartbeat and we are goingto go with everything to win it.”

On hard-fought battles against Seattle:“It’s special for us. This is a very good team. This is a very good organization. Along with us and acouple others they are one of the top organizations in the league. The way they do things is firstclass.Their fan base is first-class. They have talented players all over the field but we are a teamfull of champions and winners and that’s what separates us. We are very proud of that fact andsome days it’s the guys you expect and other days it’s the guys you don’t. That’s what championsdo.”

On LA’s second-half turnaround:“We started the game the way we wanted. We put a lot of pressure on them. We played in theirhalf of the field. They really had nothing going on until the goal. The goal gave them some energythen the second goal came. We were under a little pressure there but it didn’t change anythingfrom our perspective. We still needed the goal and we wanted to come out in the second half andapply pressure. We knew that the way they played the last month and a half has been veryconservative both home and away so we knew they would revert back in that shell and we canput pressure on them so we put a lot of pressure on them.”

On patience and determination:“We have a lot of guys here who have won in their career and that’s a big advantage over a lot ofother teams including Seattle. They don’t have a ton of guys that have won a lot ofchampionships. We know how to win in any scenario and that’s what we pride ourselves on.We’re not always perfect, we know that, but at the end of the game I look up and Robbie Keane isin our penalty area defending and clearing balls out of the box and not a lot of other teams haveguys that do that and put in that kind of commitment to the cause and that’s why we are where weare.”

On his career being close to finished:“I’m sort of just in this moment right now. I just want to prepare myself for one last week and doeverything I can to help this team win. I want to go out a champion.”On MLS Cup at home:“It seems perfect, but we are playing a team that I think is the best team in the league over thelast 12 games.”

LA GALAXY FORWARD ROBBIE KEANEOn finishing the game well:“We knew before the game that we needed a goal. Them scoring two goals didn’t really changemuch to be honest. The only thing it did do is help us come out and attack a bit more. They werecreating a hell of a lot of great chances. I think actually in a weird way them scoring two goalshelped us.”

On giving-up two goals:“We lacked concentration. You’re most vulnerable when you just scored a goal and that was thecase. The 10 to 15 minutes after you just concede a goal is the most important and we weren’tfocused and they killed us a little bit. Halftime came at a good time for us and we regrouped. Iknew we only needed to score a goal anyway and that was the case.”