It’s gone final: a 3-2 win by the Sounders Reserves over LA. Sammy Ochoa got the game winner in the 90th minute, but the highlights came earlier: a pair of goals by Steve Zakuani — his first competitive goals since April 9, 2011. He went off in stoppage time to a nice hand.
The game also marked a relatively quiet Sounders debut for recently acquired midfielder Mario Martinez.
Some postgame reaction from Zakuani and coach Ezra Hendrickson:
On Zakuani) The first half wasn’t so good. But he’s still getting back into the thick of things. I personally think that before the injury he was a top 10 player in this league. And I think he can get back to there.
On Mario Martinez) I thought he played well. You see the kind of technical abilities that he has. He’s the kind of player that’s going to give defenders hell. He just pops up in different places. He was playing a withdrawn forward today, then he was popping up right and popping up left. I gave him that freedom for him and Zakuani to switch places and stuff. He’s going to be good. He’s very good on his set pieces also.
Overview: We wanted to come out in the second half and make a better showing for the fans, and I think we did that. We came back twice and won the game. It was just about scoring today, not about anything else: I just wanted to score to help the team today. … I’m just getting match fitness and match sharpness. Everything else is fine.
On impressing first-team coach Sigi Schmid) I don’t think there’s anything new I can show him. Maybe I can make him think that I’m a little more ready than he thinks I am. That’s all I can do. I’ve been wanting to play for a long time. I understand it’s a process. But games like today help my confidence and help show that maybe I’m not too far off. … (Schmid) said he liked the guy he saw in the second half.
On the goals as a marker of progress: The first half wasn’t good. The second half was a lot better, and it’s good to get a goal to help for confidence. But I’m more focused on getting my touch right and not losing balls and holding the ball up means a lot more to me at this stage. Goals will come. … I understand that it’s going to take me a while, but I’m happy.
90th minute: Sammy Ochoa heads Sounders ahead from close range. 3-2.
84th minute: Zakuani equalizes for the second time, volleying in from the far post after corner. Sounders-LA even 2-2.
78th minute: Stevens puts LA back ahead, 2-1.
72nd minute: GOAL Seattle. Steve Zakuani finishes a long breakaway run. 1-1. Nice hand from crowd and hugs from teammates. Assist from Seamon, nicely into space. (first since game-winner April 9 home vs. chicago)
67th minute: Martinez goes off, replaced by Dawyne Smith.
60th minute: Another long Zakuani run into space, this time ending with a pass to Burch. He’s also taken a couple of aggressive tackles around his legs, hurdling one, tripping briefly over the other. Instantly getting back into the play each time.
54th minute: Yellow to Ianni for grabbing a shirt as a breakaway seemed to maybe be developing.
51st minute: Zakuani gets behind LA defense, runs about 30 yards into box, but then touches long past keeper, and his attempt to cross back to the middle is taken by LA defense. Missed chance.
Second half: … has begun. No Sounders changes.
Halftime: LA, 1-0. Around the time of the LA goal, Martinez and Zakuani switched spots: Martinez moving to left mid and Zakuani up to forward. After a few minutes, they switched back. (Zakuani was very clear in an interview last week that he is a midfielder.)
Stats from Sounders: Halftime stats (SEA/LAG) – Shots: 4/5. SOG: 1/3. Fouls: 2/8. Offside: 2/0. Corner kicks: 3/1. Saves: 2/1.
35th minute: GOAL LA. Jose Villareal, knocking in a pass from Pat Noonan at close range. LA, 1-0.
First 30: Still scoreless. Nice Ochoa chance went wide. Ford made a pretty basic save. Sounders getting the better of the play so far.
First 15 minutes: Scoreless. Best chances have been to Sounders, both involving Tetteh, who hit a post early, and then did a nice wall-pass combination — Tetteh to Ochoa back to Tetteh — but his first touch in the box was too strong.
First kick: We’re under way: Galaxy in white/white; Sounders in cyan/cyan.
Pregame: A pretty interesting lineup — including Steve Zakuani and newcomer Mario Martinez — for the Sounders Reserves today, as they meet the Los Angeles Galaxy Reserves at 1 p.m. at Starfire.
Here’s the first 11: GK Ford; D Scott, Ianni, Steres, Burch; M Tetteh, Carrasco, Seamon, Zakuani; F Martinez, Ochoa.
For LA: Perk; Gaul, Meyer, Boyens, Sorto; Stephens, Walker, Garcia, Jordan; Villarreal, Noonan.
I’m here and will update with highlights as the game moves along.