The return of World Cup heroes Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle helped Los Angeles beat Seattle convincingly for a second time this season.
CARSON, Calif. — After an embarrassing four-goal loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy two months ago, Sounders FC players and coaches contended they didn’t play that bad.
There were no qualifiers after the rematch Sunday, a comfortable 3-1 win for L.A. at The Home Depot Center in the Major League Soccer homecoming of World Cup heroes Edson Buddle and — more notably — Landon Donovan.
“L.A. was better than us,” Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said matter-of-factly.
Despite spotting the Galaxy (11-1-3) two goals, Seattle battled to make it 2-1 on a 66th-minute strike by Steve Zakuani, who received a pass from Fredy Montero and knifed through the L.A. defense and finished a shot to the far post.
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It was only the fifth goal the Galaxy has conceded this season.
“It came at a good time,” said Zakuani of his fifth goal this season. “That goal made them think again. They probably thought it was wrapped up. … I really thought we were going to get a second goal back.”
The comeback effort was put to rest in the 77th minute, however, when Seattle defender James Riley knocked the ball into his own goal after a cross by L.A.’s Alan Gordon.
It was little consolation to the Sounders that they controlled large portions of the second half. Seattle fell to a franchise-worst four games below .500 at 4-8-3.
“You won’t win games when you concede three goals, and we’ve done it a couple times now,” said midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
For the first 30 minutes, L.A. looked every part the best team in MLS in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000.
In the second minute, Galaxy rookie Michael Stephens set the attack-minded tone for his team with a shot past diving goalkeeper Kasey Keller that hammered off the post.
The one-sided action was rewarded in the 19th minute when the World Cup duo combined to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. Moments after Buddle missed a go-ahead goal by a mere inches, the 29-year-old forward rose high to power a Donovan corner kick past Keller to the far post.
The Galaxy closed the first half with a 12-3 advantage in shots and took eight corner kicks to Seattle’s zero.
“I thought we started too defensively,” said Ljungberg. “We sat back and they dominated. We weren’t aggressive at all.”
After the disastrous half, Seattle made one substitution at the break, bringing Nate Jaqua on for Pat Noonan. The 45 minutes of action were a season high for the 6-foot-3 forward who continues to recover from a lower abdomen injury.
In the 48th minute, a long strike from distance by L.A. midfielder Juninho gave the Galaxy a 2-0 lead.
In response, Seattle subbed on rookie Michael Seamon for Peter Vagenas, but the moves proved to be too late as the Sounders fell to 0-7-1 this season after allowing the first goal. On the other end, L.A. continued its torrid pace and improved to 6-0-1 at home.
“Their record is like that for a reason. They’re a very good team,” Zakuani said.
• L.A. midfielder David Beckham is still recovering from an Achilles injury and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season.
• The Galaxy and Sounders FC meet again at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
GALAXY 3, SOUNDERS FC 1
|Seattle||0 1 — 1|
|Los Angeles||1 2 — 3|
First half — 1, Los Angeles, Buddle 10 (Donovan), 19th minute. Second half — 2, Los Angeles, Juninho 1, 48th. 3, Seattle, Zakuani 5 (Montero), 66th. 4, Los Angeles, Riley (own goal), 78th. Goalies — Seattle, Kasey Keller; Los Angeles, Donovan Ricketts. Shots — Seattle 9, Los Angeles 15. Shots on goal — Seattle 4, Los Angeles 4. Saves — Seattle 2, Los Angeles 3. Fouls — Seattle 12, Los Angeles 15. Offsides — Seattle 4, Los Angeles 1. Corner kicks — Seattle 1, Los Angeles 11. Yellow cards — Marshall, Seattle, 82nd; Alex, Los Angeles, 89th. Referee — Silvio Petrescu. A — 27,000.
Seattle — Kasey Keller, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Steve Zakuani, Freddie Ljungberg (Miguel Montano, 83rd), Peter Vagenas (Mike Seamon, 51st), Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan (Nate Jaqua, 45th).
Los Angeles — Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez, Chris Birchall, Michael Stephens, Juninho (Alex, 85th), Tristan Bowen (Chris Klein, 75th), Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle (Alan Gordon, 62nd).