Tottenham Hotspur stars past and future clashed in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, as Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy toppled DeAndre Yedlin’s Seattle Sounders 1-0 in the Western Conference Championship first-leg.
A 52nd-minute Marcelo Sarvas strike was enough for the home side to best the Supporters’ Shield winners at the StubHub Center, and set up an intense decider in Seattle on November 30.
LA ought to have ended the match with a much more comfortable advantage, having missed several gilt-edged chances over the course of the 90 minutes, but the likes of the soon-to-retire Landon Donovan and Keane himself were satisfied with the result.
“Of all the results, that was probably the third best,” Donovan told reporters after the game.
“Two-zero or three-zero would have been second and first best. But, they had a few chances too, and keeping that team scoreless isn’t easy. The first objection was not to get scored on, even if it ended up 0-0. Getting the goal was important. A little unlucky and not quite sharp enough to get the second, but we are confident.”
Keane added: “I wouldn't say comfortable, but it puts us in good position. I think the most important thing today was not to concede a goal, and we did that. And we managed to get one, so, overall, not a bad day.”
Seattle’s physical back-line on the afternoon made life difficult for the Galaxy attack, with the likes of Yedlin and fellow defenders Chad Marshall, Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez committing a number of fouls, but Keane stressed it was no less than what was expected.
“It was the same as it was a few weeks ago when we played”, he said. “Nothing really, really changed. Certainly there was a lot of persistent fouling on their side, rather than us. It was very clear for everyone to see.
“We try to play for a win. We don’t have kids on our team. We are grown men. If someone is going to tackle, we’ll tackle back. I don’t want to talk about the physicality of the game – it’s what we do. It’s a man’s game. You have to accept that there will be a few tackles, a few elbows. It’s part of the game. You have to give as good as you get.”