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Seattle dominates, but settles for 1-1 draw with Los Angeles

Seattle Sounders forward Herculez Gomez, left, tries to hold off Los Angeles Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, right, during the second half of 1-1 draw on Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
Seattle Sounders forward Herculez Gomez, left, tries to hold off Los Angeles Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, right, during the second half of 1-1 draw on Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Tim Booth Associated Press

SEATTLE – It should have been a celebration for the Seattle Sounders. Instead, more frustration.

New coach in charge. New star player in the lineup. Same disappointing result.

“We thought we deserved more. We had our chances. It’s been somewhat the same story this whole year,” Seattle’s Cristian Roldan said.

Roldan scored his second goal of the season in the 49th minute to give Seattle the lead, but a defensive miscue late allowed Los Angeles’ Sebastian Lleget to score the equalizer in the 78th minute as the Sounders and Galaxy finished in a 1-1 tie.

Seattle was in position to get the victory in the debut of interim head coach Brian Schmetzer, taking over this week after the club and MLS victory leader Sigi Schmid parted ways. Yet the frustrating season for the Sounders (6-12-3) continued after missing numerous chances to put the game away in the second half.

“I have absolutely no complaint about their commitment to the game, it’s just we need to score the second goal, the third goal, the fourth goal,” Schmetzer said. “It’s not good. We’re all frustrated.”

The past week was a tipping point for Seattle, the start of a makeover to try and salvage a season that’s been far below expectations. The biggest move was the decision to move on from Schmid as the man in charge.

Sunday was Seattle’s first game in franchise history without Schmid as the head coach. Schmid was appointed to navigate the franchise through its infancy beginning with its expansion season in 2009, but the relationship reached a breaking point this season with the Sounders slogging through the worst four months in club history and culminating with last Tuesday’s decision between Schmid and the club to part ways.

Schmetzer said it was a little strange not to have Schmid’s voice on the sideline. Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena was highly complementary of Schmid and what he’s brought to soccer in the United States.

“We’ve temporarily lost one of the great people in the game in this country,” Arena said.

Seattle was on the verge of giving Schmetzer a victory in his debut. Roldan’s goal was his second of the season off an assist from Nelson Valdez. But Seattle’s defense broke down in the closing minutes, allowing a chipped pass by Steven Gerrard to find Lletget unmarked at the back post to tap in his first goal since Aug. 23, 2015.

Seattle missed out on a needed three points in its attempt to get back into the playoff race in the Western Conference, but came away hopeful about what newly signed designated player Nicolas Lodeiro can provide.

Despite arriving in Seattle on Tuesday, Lodeiro was the best player on the field. His playmaking created numerous chances for others and he nearly scored three times in the second half, his last chance a deflected shot that forced Los Angeles goalkeeper Brian Rowe to make a fingertip save.

Los Angeles defender Jelle Van Damme also saved two shots off the goal line, one in each half. Van Damme denied Clint Dempsey’s shot in the first half then raced back to stuff Jordan Morris’ shot in the 70th minute after Morris was sent free on a pass by Lodeiro and dribbled around Rowe.

The Galaxy (9-3-9) came away with a point despite playing without U.S. national team midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who missed the match with a strained chest muscle.

“For us to sneak out of here with a point, we’re not looking back. We’re getting out of town real quick, and we’re not looking back,” Arena said.

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