SEATTLE (AP) — Clint Dempsey finally got on the board in his ninth game back in Major League Soccer, scoring in the 30th minute to give the Seattle Sounders the lead, and Robbie Keane’s half-volley goal late in the second half gave the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-1 draw in the MLS regular-season finale on Sunday night.
Dempsey’s goal off a cross from Lamar Neagle gave Seattle a chance at finishing third in the MLS Western Conference standings, but Keane’s goal in the 78th minute changed the entire playoff picture. Keane scored after a scramble in the penalty box, one-hopping a shot past Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Keane’s goal gave the Galaxy third place in the final standings. Los Angeles will face Real Salt Lake in the two-leg conference semifinals. Seattle will now host Colorado in the play-in round on Wednesday, with the winner getting Western Conference regular-season champion Portland in the conference semifinals.
The disappointing draw for Seattle — in front of another massive crowd of 66,218 — capped a miserable final month that saw Seattle blow its chances at winning the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield. The Sounders were winless in their final five games, including a four-game losing streak that was snapped with Sunday’s draw.
The Galaxy could argue they should have gotten out of Seattle with a victory due to a blown call in the first half that negated a Los Angeles goal late in the first half.
Omar Gonzalez came open at the back post on a corner kick from Landon Donovan and his header beat Gspurning. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso appeared to clear the ball off the line, but television replays later confirmed missed call. Gonzalez’s header clearly bounced beyond the goal line, kicking up rubber pellets, before Alonso’s clearance.
Donovan and Keane were immediately irate, getting in the face of referee Mark Geiger. Keane then turned his barking to assistant referee Greg Barkey, who was standing on the end line for the corner kick.
But Keane’s late goal gave Los Angeles the draw. It was his 16th goal of the season and seventh in the last 12 months against Seattle. The Galaxy closed the season with eight points in their final four games to overtake the Sounders and avoid the extra round of the postseason.
If there was a bright spot for Seattle it was Dempsey finally getting his first point. Neagle’s cross floated into the penalty area and Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo got the slightest touch trying to deflect the pass. The touch by Penedo took Gonzalez out of the play due to his momentum. Without breaking stride, Dempsey made the slight adjustment to hit the ball with the outside of his right foot and past Penedo as he tried to get back in position.
Dempsey pointed at his wrist and mouthed “about time,” after getting his first point with the Sounders after 590 minutes.
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