There were tributes for the retiring Landon Donovan before and after the Galaxy’s game against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night, the Galaxy’s last regular-season home game.
Donovan’s favorite band, Boyz II Men, sang the national anthem. Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber came to help toast Donovan, the league’s all-time leader in goals and assists.
And when the Galaxy took a 2-0 lead on Marcelo Sarvas’ goal in the 50th minute, it appeared, at least for the Galaxy, that the celebration would be completed with a victory.
But Clint Dempsey and the rest of the Sounders, proving why they’re tied with the Galaxy for first place in the MLS Western Conference, then crashed the party in front of a sellout 27,244 at StubHub Center.
Dempsey scored in the 69th minute, his teammate Lamar Neagle scored in the 72nd minute and Seattle left town with a 2-2 tie.
“We’re disappointed, for sure,” Donovan said.
Now the teams will finish the regular season playing each other again Saturday, this time in Seattle. And while both already have clinched playoff berths, there’s still much at stake.
The outcome of Saturday’s game will determine which team wins the MLS Supporters’ Shield, which goes to the club with the most points, and therefore which team is top-seeded for the postseason.
Both teams have 61 points, but Seattle (19-10-4) has more wins than the Galaxy (17-6-10) that would serve as a tie-breaker. So Seattle would capture the Supporters’ Shield with a win or a tie Saturday, while the Galaxy needs a victory.
And Seattle might carry an edge into Saturday’s game because Omar Gonzalez, the Galaxy’s star defender, got into foul trouble Sunday.
Gonzalez drew two fouls, and thus a red card, and therefore will be suspended for Saturday’s game.
“That’s all part of it, you often play without players,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. “The next guy will step in,” though he declined to say who might replace Gonzalez.
Although Seattle managed to stymie the Galaxy’s top scorers, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Donovan, the Galaxy took the lead during the one minute of extra time after the first half of regulation.
As the Sounders tried to clear the ball from their goal, the ball fell to midfielder Baggio Husidic, who drove it with his left foot from the top of the 18-yard box past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Sarvas also scored his goal from the top of the 18-yard box.
But Seattle got back into the game in the 69th minute when a loose ball came to Dempsey and he rifled it past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo from seven yards.
Neagle scored three minutes later on a wide-open shot from 10 yards.
“For whatever reason our energy level dropped in the second half,” Donovan said.
“As frustrating as it is, we’re still alive for the Supporters’ Shield,” Donovan said. “It’s frustrating but it’s not the end of the world.”