Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders will battle for a berth in MLS Cup final on Sunday when the rivals clash in the second leg of the Western Conference finals at CenturyLink Field.
The Galaxy enter the crucial final leg with the upper hand after claiming a 1-0 win at the StubHub in the opening leg courtesy of a goal from Marcelo Sarvas. A win or a draw for the Galaxy will send the club to their third MLS Cup appearance in the last four years.
It was a tense affair from the opening whistle, but both clubs created numerous scoring chances in the first half, forcing both goalkeepers to make several upstanding saves.
The sides went into the break scoreless, but Los Angeles had the jump in the second half and grabbed the game's only goal in the 52nd minute.
Sarvas did well to corral a pass from defender A.J. DeLaGarza at the top of the penalty area and have a strike on target. The ball took a deflection off Seattle's Chad Marshall and wound up past Stefan Frei in the back of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena praised his team's resolve to get an opening-leg win and a clean sheet.
"There were some chances to get a second. Obviously, they had some good chances. Not conceding a goal is important, so that's a plus," Arena said. We know it���s going to be a battle there. As you can see, the officiating in these games is important too. I don't think we quite understand how to deal with this competition with the rules and cards and everything.
"It's been crazy. I think it was a little bit hectic in this game. It is what it is. And now we will have two teams going into the game on Sunday with no one suspended, which I guess was the premise behind some of the decisions today. I will give Seattle credit. Good team. No question about it. Seattle is a good team. It will be a battle on Sunday."
Seattle was without two important pieces in the first leg as forward Lamar Neagle missed the match due to a personal matter, while defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
But both players appear set to return on Sunday.
"Certainly those guys help our team," said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. "Neagle has nine goals and nine assists, so he's someone that helps us on the offensive end. And, obviously, Ozzie is Ozzie. Those guys we hope will both be available next week and should make things better."
"Both those guys are integral parts of our team, but we've never been about just one person," Sounders defender Zach Scott said. "This entire year, guys have cycled in and out when there���s been injuries or national team call-ups. We're excited to have Ozzie and Lamar back, but we expect to put in a good performance regardless of who's out there."
After being shut out for the second straight contest in the opening leg, the Sounders need to break a scoring drought in which the club has found the back of the net just once in the last 270 minutes of play.
"If we weren't creating chances, I'd be concerned," Schmid said. "But we're creating chances and we had some looks."
A win will give the Sounders a chance to claim the first treble in MLS history as the club has also won the Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup this season.