Los Angeles’ firepower was on the field, while Seattle’s was watching from 1,000 miles away.
The result was predictable, as the L.A. Galaxy stormed to a 3-1 win over Sounders FC before a sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Two of the Galaxy’s goals came from designated players: the game-winner from Robbie Keane, and the score-capper from Mexico national team start Giovan dos Santos in his Major League Soccer debut.
Meanwhile, all three Seattle designated players were absent. Clint Dempsey stayed home with a hamstring injury suffered Friday in training. Obafemi Martins missed his ninth straight league match with a leg injury. And newly signed striker Nelson Valdez is expected to make his MLS debut next weekend. Even Osvaldo Alonso, a DP until a paperwork tweak last week, was out with a hamstring.
Amid all those absences, the Sounders (10-12-2) lost their fifth straight league game – a club record. And their 12th loss of the season matched the club record with 10 games left to go.
Given all that, the biggest surprise of the sunny Southern California afternoon might have been that Seattle struck first.
Forward Chad Barrett took a precise pass from Erik Friberg and knocked it in from short range in the first minute. It ended a scoreless run of 363 minutes for the Sounders, and it marked quickest goal allowed by the Galaxy since 2009.
But it may be an indication of the way things have gone lately for the Sounders, that as Barrett raced away from the goal, he pulled a hamstring and was lost of the rest of the game.
Los Angeles pulled even in the 13th minute, when Seattle failed to clear a corner kick and Gyasi Zardes scored from the top of the penalty area.
The Galaxy (11-7-7) took the lead early in the second half, when a Juninho pass into the area trickled through several Seattle defenders and to the foot of Keane, who knocked it in.
The capper came in the 64th minute when the Sounders lost possession near midfield, and Dos Santos went streaking behind the defense and finished to the far post past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
When that score stood up, it marked the first come-from-behind victory in the history of the series.
The Sounders hope this game marked a bottoming out of their personnel problem. The club seems confident that Martins will return and Valdez will make his debut next Sunday when Orlando City SC makes it first visit to CenturyLink Field.