The sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center may have been disappointed by the absence of top stars Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders FC and Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
However, they cheered and chanted their way through a 1-1 draw tonight that left the Sounders (15-8-5) at the top of MLS and the two-time defending champion Galaxy (13-10-6) still struggling for their playoff lives.
Seattle got on the board in the 25th minute, when Mauro Rosales sailed a corner kick in front of the goal and Eddie Johnson headed it past keeper Jaime Penedo.
It was Johnson’s eighth goal of the season, moving him even with Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle for the team lead.
That lead stood up until seconds before halftime, when Zack Scott was carded for a foul around the top of the penalty arc. Juninho sent the free kick over the Seattle wall and tucked it inside the left post to tie it.
Scott picked up his second yellow card late in the second half, which played out scorelessly.
Some of the glitter came off the game about seven hours before the start of the match, when the Sounders announced that U.S. national team captain Dempsey had not traveled with the team due to a hamstring issued suffered late in the week.
More followed when the Galaxy released it’s lineup, which was minus club and country star Donovan due to an ankle injury that coach Bruce Arena had downplayed a couple of days earlier.
However, along with the absences, there were a couple of new faces as newly acquired midfielder Adam Moffat made his Sounders debut. Also, Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani returned to the game-day roster for the first time since April 20, although he did not play.
The Sounders return to action Sept. 29, when the New York Red Bulls visit CenturyLink Field.
76′ Second Sounders sub: Brad Evans on for Mauro Rosales. Armband to Alonso.
Attendance: An announced sellout of 27,000. Very good atmosphere.
65′ Adam Moffat makes his Sounders debut, coming in for Andy Rose.
Halftime: 1-1. Shots, 5-4 LA; on goal 2-2; corners, 4-1 LA; fouls 8-3 SEA; duels % 57.7 LA; possession, 58.4 LA.
45+’ GOAL LA … in stoppage time of first half. Free kick after Zach Scott foul, and Juninho gets it over wall and into corner. 1-1.
25′ GOAL Seattle. Eddie Johnson header strongly hit off of Mauro Rosales corner kick. 1-0.
First 15 minutes: Game still finding it’s rhythm. But it’s gone up and down. Some chances. No goals.
First kick: … has been struck. We’re under way. Sounders in rave/rave; Galaxy in white/white.
Lineups: Sounders starting with Gspurning; Yedlin, Hurtado, Scott, Gonzalez; Rosales (C), Alonso, Rose, Neagle; Johnson, Martins. Reserves: Hahnemann, Traore, Burch, Evans, Moffat, Estrada, Zakuani.
Starting for LA: Penedo; Franklin, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Jimenez, Juninho, Sarvas, Zardes; Villarreal, Keane.
So, neither Clint Dempsey nor Landon Donovan available. But Steve Zakuani in the 18 for the first time since April 20.
Pregame: It’s about two hours until first kick at StubHub Center at Carson, Calif.
Galaxy and Sounders coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN, with kickoff expected at 7:53. It’s a big game under any circumstance, but some drama disappeared earlier today with the news that Sounders DP Clint Dempsey didn’t travel due to a hamstring injury suffered in training this week.
Another issue that could factor in tonight: pretty windy evening in Carson, with the stadium flags standing straight out, but apparently across the width of the pitch for now.
We’ll keep this blog open all evening, and will have additional updates on Twitter @donruiztnt.
Lineups could be especially interesting tonight, and we’ll be back with those probably an hour or so before first kick.