Brian Perk had a debut to remember, but the beaten-down backline took two more hits as the Galaxy extended their unbeaten streak to 11 games Monday night with an often tedious 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders.
Perk, a second-year goalkeeper forced into action after Donovan Ricketts broke his arm and Josh Saunders was red-carded in last week's scoreless draw in San Jose, was superb in his first MLS action, saving a Fredy Montero penalty kick in the 18th minute and making two more saves to notch a shutout in front of 27,000 at Home Depot Center.
Center backs A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez exited with injuries, further testing the depth on a backline that has been pummeled since preseason, with Gregg Berhalter -- who came on for DeLaGarza -- sidelined for months with a knee injury and Leonardo's and Sean Alvarado's seasons halted by torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
DeLaGarza sustained a probable concussion when booted in the head by Montero in the 13th minute. He played on, finally going to the ground in the 21st minute, when he was stretchered off the field and helped to the locker room.
Gonzalez suffered a left hip-pointer injury in the 73rd, when he was undercut at midfield by Sounders forward Roger Levesque and landed hard. He tried to run it off, then went down chasing a ball out of bounds in the 78th minute.
Further tests will determine the severity of the injuries, but head coach Bruce Arena was optimistic neither will be out long.
“I think they'll both be OK,” Arena said. “A.J. took a bang to the hear. I talked to him after the game; he's fine. Omar ... I think he's going to be fine, as well.”
David Beckham, who came on in the second half after missing the past two games with what he called a minor stress fracture in his spine, and Landon Donovan, returning after a month away with the U.S. national team, said DeLaGarza's injury was a concussion. Gonzalez hinted at it, too.
“I think A.J.'s a lot worse off than I am,” Gonzalez said about his former University of Maryland teammate (and roommate). “I don't really know his condition, but, I mean, he was kind of dizzy from the get-go. ... For me, I've just got to be really focused on getting my treatment and trying to get my hip all right.”
It was a haphazard clash, with neither team able to build from midfield in a match defined by ongoing battles all over the field. Juan Pablo Angel had two good chances for the Galaxy, hitting the base of the right post with the second, and Montero should have put the Sounders up with his penalty kick.
Gonzalez was whistled for a handball after Montero's side volley from a Mauro Rosales feed hit him in the arm, wrong-footing Perk, who made an impressive stop at the goal line. Perk had no problems stopping Montero's penalty kick, leaving his line just before the whistle, diving to his right and parrying the ball away.
How did he know where Montero would go?
“Just looking at him, I thought he was a crafty player,” Perk said. “So I thought he'd open his hips and close them -- he'd show me one way and go the other -- and that's what he did, and I guessed the right way. I was very fortunate. It worked out.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: Gonzalez was sensational, the penalty kick aside, until he had to depart, the best performer on a solid backline that set a standard at the start and kept it going -- even raised it -- as injuries forced Arena to switch things up.
Perk was just as good -- and absolutely perfect when he needed to be, guessing right, diving right and saving Montero's spot kick to preserve the shutout. He made three saves in all -- his 61st-minute stop on James Riley, after Juninho's giveaway, also was key -- and was in complete command of his area from start to finish, cutting off several balls that might have caused problems.
“Obviously, the penalty is a great save at a really important time of the game,” Donovan said. “A few of his kicks were maybe astray. But he was good, he was aggressive, he played smart, and it kind of epitomizes what this team is like. I'm pretty confident in saying not another team would have their third-string goalie playing against maybe the hottest team in the league right now and come away with the shutout, and we're very proud of that.”
BEST GOAL: For the second straight week, there weren't any, and there weren't many decent opportunities either. Angel had the Galaxy's best, firing just wide of the left post with an open shot in the 36th minute and striking the right post, on a shot Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller got his fingertips to, in the 68th.
Chad Barrett had the most spectacular chance, leaping into the air in attempt to bicycle-kick a Chris Birchall cross in the 85th. He made glancing contact, not nearly solid enough to put anywhere near the goal frame.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Galaxy couldn't get an attacking rhythm going , struggling to string passes through midfield, and they were left playing balls over the top with limited success.
The injuries to DeLaGarza and Gonzalez hindered L.A., taking away options off the bench when Arena was forced to make substitutions he hadn't planned on. Bringing on Paolo Cardozo or Miguel Lopez could have provided better possession and led to chances. “That was my thinking,” Arena said. “but it never came to fruition.”
WORTH NOTING: Beckham said he hadn't expected to play but was ready to go after having an epidural and cortizone shot last week. “It seemed to react well, took the pain away,” he reported. “Obviously, the fracture is still there, but the paid has died down a bit.” ... Sean Franklin moved from right back into the middle when Gonzalez departed, with Bryan Jordan coming off the bench and taking over on the right. ... Michael Stephens was held out after spraining his right ankle in training Saturday. ... Seattle is unbeaten in its last seven games. ... The clubs' reserve teams meet Tuesday morning at HDC's University Field 1, the Galaxy's primary training field just southeast of the main stadium. The Sounders are 6-0-0 in the West Division; the Galaxy is 5-1-0.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “We didn't create a ton of chances ...,” Donovan said. “We should be better. We need to be better. It was just one of those nights where we never got to a rhythm. We never got ourselves comfortable passing and moving in the right spots. We had a few OK chances, but not good enough to win the game tonight.”
NEXT: Saturday vs. Chicago Fire at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 0, Seattle Sounders 0
Galaxy: Brian Perk; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez (Bryan Jordan, 79), A.J. DeLaGarza (Gregg Berhalter, 24), Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Mike Magee (David Beckham, 68); Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett. Unused subs: Paolo Cardozo, Kevin Guppy, Jovan Kirovski, Miguel Lopez.
Seattle Sounders: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle, 93+), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan, 71); Fredy Montero (Brad Evans, 61), Roger Levesque.
Yellow cards: Friberg 55, Donovan 94+.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar. Att.: 27,000.