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December 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The Day-After Report: Leaving it out there

Osvaldo Alonso sat in the corner stall of the away locker room at the StubHub Center last Sunday, his head resting on one side of the locker and his eyes watery and unfocused.

His teammates had just lost to the Galaxy 1-0. They failed to pick up a valuable away goal and were probably fortunate to escape with just a one-goal deficit. Yet Alonso looked like the most devastated man in the room.

Unable to recover in time from a hamstring injury suffered against Dallas, the Seattle midfielder could only watch from the sidelines.

When Alonso pulled up grimacing in the seventh minute of the return leg against Los Angeles yesterday, a game his team won on the night but ultimately lost on the series, it looked like he’d return there. Yet somehow he made it to the half and then some.

“We didn’t know how much we were going to get out of him in the second half,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid admitted.

They got almost another full half hour. Alonso had to adjust his game and pick his spots — his more stationary role seemed to mess with Seattle’s passing rhythm early on, but it didn’t take long for he and midfield partner Gonzalo Pineda to reach an understanding.

It was a quick, one-touch passing move between those two and Clint Dempsey that led to the striker’s goal midway through the first half — the one that put Seattle temporarily ahead 2-1 on aggregate.

“The reason why we got the upper hand is because we started to destroy their attacks on the upper half of the field, which gave us a chance to get forward better,” Schmid said. “I thought in the second half they started to throw long balls in to expose us and put speed behind our defense, and they got behind a little bit and earned a couple corner kicks.

“Our goal in the second half wasn’t to try and sit and defend.”

Maybe not, but Seattle came out of the intermission with less energy, and flat-footed defending allowed Juninho the time and space to fire off his series winner in the 54th minute.

Micheal Azira replaced Alonso in the 74th minute and Andy Rose came on for Pineda a minute later. Lamar Neagle was withdrawn from Marco Pappa with 11 minutes to go, but none of the substitutes could conjure the moment of magic their team required.

Seattle’s comeback coughed and sputtered, never really gathering much momentum.

Alonso left it all out there, gutting through a painfully cold night at CenturyLink. The Sounders as a whole were left to ponder what could’ve been if they’d dug down just a little bit further.

By the numbers: 62.8. Percentage of the possession Seattle had in the second half Sunday night — yet L.A. still managed to out-shoot them by double in the final 45 minutes.

In their own words: “It was the most important year in my career, for sure. After I’ve struggled the last three years — physically and also mentally — having a chance to go on a journey like I did and get back up and work on that confidence and everything with it again, you need a lot of people to believe you and give you time to be able to do that, and an awesome team around you to be able to give me a second chance. So I’m really thankful to have been able to be a part of this team this year and hopefully for many years to come. But it’s disappointing tonight” — Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei

Up next: Season over.

| More in Day-After Report, MLS, Sounders FC


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