By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
CARSON, CALIF. — The sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center may have been disappointed by the absence of top stars Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders and Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
However, they cheered and chanted their way to the end of a 1-1 draw Saturday 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, leaving the Sounders with only 10 players for the closing minutes.
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 issue suffered late in the week. Then the Galaxy released its lineup, which was minus club and U.S. star Donovan due to an ankle injury that coach Bruce Arena had downplayed a couple of days earlier.
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.