CARSON, Calif. – So it wasn’t quite the star-studded affair it was billed to be.
Saturday’s much-anticipated clash between Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy was disappointingly played without Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan as the U.S. internationals were out with injuries, but the Western Conference showdown didn’t lack for talent or quality goals.
The game did lack a dramatic winner, however, as the teams split a pair of first-half goals in a contentious 1-1 tie in front of 27,000 at a sold-out StubHub Center.
Seattle (15-8-5) had its five-game winning streak snapped, but still holds the best record in MLS after playing the final minutes a man down following Zach Scott’s ejection for a second yellow card.
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Coach Sigi Schmid called it a roll-your-sleeves-up effort at the end as L.A. heaped on the pressure.
“Coming down here and getting a tie is a good result,” he said. “If you’re looking at playoffs, you’ve got to be able to get something on the road and then come back home and take care of business. If this was a first playoff game, where we were here on the road, it’d be good for us.”
The Galaxy, without Donovan due to an ankle sprain, still hasn’t lost at home to the Sounders since 2009.
Dempsey didn’t travel for the game due to a hamstring strain suffered Thursday in practice. Schmid didn’t rule him out of Seattle’s next game, Sept. 29 vs. New York, but said the forward would be evaluated throughout the coming week.
“We have to see how he recovers now over the next three to four days,” the coach added.
Both teams had chances for a late goal in a back-and-forth, physical battle that favored the hosts in the second half.
The Galaxy (13-10-6) appeared to score off a free kick in the 60th minute, but a foul call by referee Silviu Petrescu negated the goal. L.A. also couldn’t convert in the 77th minute on a chance by Marcelo Sarvas or in the 83rd minute through Gyasi Zardes — neither shot forcing a save from Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Seattle had to hold on desperately up to the final second as the Galaxy had a corner kick that was cleared away just as the final whistle sounded.
The Sounders’ best chance for a late goal came in the 83rd minute, but Lamar Neagle narrowly missed wide on a header set up nicely by substitute Brad Evans.
Seattle is 0-5-2 on the road against the Galaxy dating to 2010, having been outscored 14-3.
That history didn’t appear to matter in the 25th minute, when the Sounders opened the scoring. Eddie Johnson got open in the penalty box on a Mauro Rosales corner kick and powerfully finished a header for his eighth goal of the year, tied for the team lead.
The goal was Seattle’s first on the road against the Galaxy since Nov. 7, 2010 — a span of 388 minutes. The assist was Rosales’ 34th with the Sounders, tying Fredy Montero’s franchise record, with connections to Johnson accounting for 10 of those.
The visitors had a couple chances to extend the lead, but couldn’t, and the Galaxy made Seattle pay in stoppage time just before halftime. Juninho curled a picturesque free kick into the corner of the net from 25 yards out, the first goal allowed by Gspurning in 199 minutes.
The only way to prevent that goal, according to Gspurning, would’ve been to not have a foul called.
“It was a perfect free kick,” he said. “The ball came over the wall, I think it even bounced on the line, so there was nothing to do.”
The Sounders held on to improve their unbeaten run to 38-0-9 when scoring first, the longest active streak in the league.
On this day, a tie was good enough.
• Saturday was the 62nd birthday of Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
• Seattle’s Steve Zakuani was on the bench for the first time since April 20, having missed the last 21 games with a groin injury that required sports-hernia surgery.
• Midfielder Adam Moffat made his Sounders FC debut as a substitute in the 65th minute. He was acquired in a trade with Houston last week, just before the leaguewide roster freeze.
• Scott is suspended for the Sept. 29 game against the Red Bulls.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers