Loss costs Sounders No. 2 seed, perhaps key players
Eddie Johnson and Jeff Parke left Sunday's game with apparent hamstring injuries. The Sounders open the playoffs on Friday at home against Real Salt Lake.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Real Salt Lake @ Seattle, TBA
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CARSON, Calif. — The score of Sounders FC's regular-season finale Sunday was important, but not as important as the status of the team's leading scorer, forward Eddie Johnson, who had to leave Seattle's 1-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy with an apparent hamstring injury.
Johnson, who finished sixth in MLS with 14 goals, will undergo an MRI on Monday.
"There's definitely something there," he said. "If I had played, I'd have been restricted. The smart thing was for me to do what's best for the team and come out."
Defender Jeff Parke also felt some hamstring tightness — albeit to a lesser degree — and had to be subbed off as well as Seattle settled for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
As a result, the Sounders (15-8-11) conceded home-field advantage in an upcoming playoff series with Real Salt Lake. Seattle will host the first leg of a two-game series Friday and finish on the road on Nov. 8.
The Sounders hope the postseason isn't a repeat of a nightmare from last season, when midfielder Mauro Rosales missed the playoffs with a knee injury suffered on the last game of the year.
"We'll have to see where we're at, and we'll have to see which players are available," said coach Sigi Schmid. "Salt Lake's got some guys with some injuries, as well. ... We're going to put out 11 players, they're going to put out 11 players, then those guys need to decide it on the field."
Sunday's game, played in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,000 at The Home Depot Center, was decided when Mike Magee broke through in the 83rd minute. The Galaxy midfielder, who came into the game eight minutes earlier, fired a long-range shot past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, whose 0.73 goals-against average this season was third-best in MLS history and set a franchise record.
The Sounders appeared to have an equalizer in the final minute of stoppage time off the right foot of midfielder Brad Evans, but it was disallowed by referee Kevin Stott for an apparent handball on Fredy Montero.
Conceding a late winner was as disappointing as the final score was surprising.
"That was a game that could easily have been 6-6," said Schmid, as the teams combined for 36 shots.
Seattle had its four-game unbeaten streak snapped and finished the season a franchise-worst 4-4-9 on the road. The Sounders also finished with the seventh-best overall record in the league, meaning they must advance to the MLS Cup to qualify for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.
With so much lost, was it safe to call Sunday a wake-up call going into the most important games of the season?
"Yeah, for sure," said Parke, who expects his hamstring to be OK. "I mean I look at it as a wake-up call. It's something that (ticks) me off. That's frustrating, but now we know we can't take the game lightly. If this was a playoff series, then we're down right now."
Added Schmid: "Tonight has to be a good motivator. Sometimes when you get slapped a little bit toward the end of the season, it's maybe a good thing because it reminds you of how that feels, and that it's a feeling that you don't want to have come back."
• Playoff tickets go on sale Monday at 9 a.m.
• For only the third time this season, Seattle fielded the same lineup as the game before. The Sounders had 30 different lineups in their 34 regular-season games.
• Sunday's game was Sounders FC's fifth in a row to be broadcast on national television.
• The Galaxy (16-12-6) finished with the No. 4 seed in the West and host No. 5 Vancouver in a first-round playoff game Thursday. The winner faces top-ranked San Jose in the conference semifinals; LA hasn't lost to the Whitecaps in five meetings.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
|Seattle||0 0 — 0|
|Los Angeles||0 1 — 1|
Seattle — Michael Gspurning, Marc Burch, Jeff Parke (Zach Scott, 51st), Adam Johansson, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani, 82nd), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa, 44th), Fredy Montero.
Los Angeles — Josh Saunders, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin (Bryan Gaul, 46th), David Beckham (Marcelo Sarvas, 62nd), Landon Donovan, Christian Wilhelmsson, Juninho, Edson Buddle (Mike Magee, 75th), Robbie Keane.