In Pictures: Sounders down Dynamo 4-1 with impressive team performance

Any fears of Seattle Sounders FC regressing to their early season scoring woes with Raul Ruidiaz off with the Peruvian National Team were quickly erased by his replacement Will Bruin in the 18th minute as Seattle opened the scoring against visitors Houston Dynamo en route to a 4-1 victory.

With the Dynamo needing to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Houston played aggressively and allowed the game to be an open and end-to-end affair. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, it was the Sounders who took advantage of the extra space and dominated much of the match despite losing the overall possession battle.

What stood out the most in the match was the incisive, accurate passing of Seattle especially in Houston’s end of the field as they were able to pass circles around the defense at times and set up some of the most stunning goals of Seattle’s season.

“When the players are engaged and the coaching is at a high level you get moments like this where the team really kinda comes together and they play well,” said coach Brian Schmetzer after the match. “I think the last two games I think we’ve played well, we’ve had some good moments and we’ll try and continue those.”

While Bruin’s opener was a beautiful finish with his weaker left foot, the second goal on a counter-attack was even more impressive as Nico Lodeiro made a near end-to-end run with the ball, drawing five defenders before finding Cristian Roldan wide open inside the box for the finish.

The second half was punctuated by a Victor Rodriguez brace as Seattle continued press the defense and create chances with their passing. Bruin made a very clever dummy on Kelvin Leerdam’s low cross into the box allowing Rodriguez to get a shot away that took a fortunate deflection for his first goal.

The second was the result of Sounders taking advantage of the Houston defense over committing men to the ball, allowing Seattle to make quick passes between defenders into open space. Handwalla Bwana, moments after coming into the match, would ultimately get the assist on the goal as he split two defenders with his short pass to Rodriguez who was then one-on-one with the keeper from about eight yards out.

With the convincing lead, Schmetzer elected to use his substitutions to bring Henry Wingo and Alex Roldan into the match in an attempt to get the young players some extra minutes knowing that Seattle will need to rotate the lineup some with a short turnaround between matches in Orlando and then Houston.

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The changes seemed to unsettle the Seattle defense and allowed Houston to pull back one goal in the 87th minute but by then the match was well out of reach and while the team was disappointed to give up the clean sheet, it was still an impressive performance that puts Seattle on the cusp of their 10th consecutive postseason appearance, which would tie the MLS record.

Perhaps just as important for Seattle is that the win also eliminates Houston from playoff contention and could provide the Sounders with a confidence boost knowing that all of the three teams they will face the rest of the regular season are already out of the playoffs.

Still don’t expect Seattle to overlook those opponents as Bruin said after the match, “midweek game, cross-country in Orlando, a team that you know guys are going to be playing for jobs so that’s always a tough environment to go play in… so we’re going to need to up our game to be able to get a good result.”

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Seattle Sounders staying calm ahead of crunch clash with Houston Dynamo

When attending Seattle Sounders FC training sessions during the week at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington the majority of the 12 outdoor fields are vacant and there is an overarching sense of calm mixed in with Brian Schmetzer’s practices. Save for the occasional passing train, there is little to hear other than players and coaches preparing for the upcoming match.

On Saturdays the complex comes to life as youth teams take over fields overlooked by the Sounders’ offices; the future of Seattle soccer on display in the shadow of it’s present.

The atmosphere for players during Saturday training is wildly different from the mostly unwatched weekday training sessions as fans get a chance to watch practice as well as get photos and autographs.

Jordan Morris signing autographs for Seattle Sounders fans. (Photo: John Marshall)

 

While it’s still business as usual for the team as they prepare for a Monday night game against Houston Dynamo, the increased fan presence is something defender Kelvin Leerdam welcomes.

“First of all I’m happy that the people are here,” said Leerdam after practice. “They are always supporting us in good and bad times. Now it’s going good so everybody’s happy but they’re also coming when we are on a bad run. So it always gives us a boost. If you see people happy you just want to play more and play harder and hopefully we can keep the stretch going.”

Houston provides a tough test for Sounders with a speedy attacking core coming off a US Open Cup victory over Philadelphia Union and a comeback win over San Jose Earthquakes as well. Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis lead the team in scoring with 15 and 11 goals respectively and Tomas Martinez serves as a dangerous playmaker in the attacking midfield role.

“They’re very explosive on the counter,” said Stefan Frei. “They have some pace; they’re not afraid to shoot from distance. I think their confidence is quite high up top… They have some guys up there that are very eager to score and don’t really care how its going to happen and that’s very dangerous.”

While Houston is still mathematically in the Western Conference playoff race it seems Dynamo need a miracle as they’ll have to take maximum points from their last four matches to have any hope of catching Real Salt Lake in the sixth and final playoff position. With two of Seattle’s next three matches against Houston, Frei dismissed the idea of treating the first match any different from the norm.

“No it doesn’t matter… We have to take it to [Houston] and we have to get three points at home,” said Frei. “It doesn’t really matter who we’re facing at this point. If we want to be ready for the playoffs, get into the playoffs, and then make a serious push then what you do at home is vital.

“All focus is on this home game and making sure that we take care of business.”

Seattle will play host to Houston this Monday night at 19:30 PT (03:30 GMT) as they look to secure their 10th-straight postseason appearance which would tie the Los Angeles Galaxy for longest streak of consecutive appearances in league history.

MLS debutants run riot on opening weekend

The opening weekend of MLS has set the tone for the rest of the season. There was plenty of drama with goals, video assistant referees, red cards and shock results. However, one astonishing stat that has come from week one was from MLS debutants.

A total of 26 goals were scored across the ten games with nine of those coming from debutants – which equates to 35% of the goals scored on opening weekend.

What makes it all the more impressive is that all nine goal scorers came from different clubs, adding to the excitement.

WATCH 📹 – Take a look at all nine debutant goals from week one

2018 Key Transfers: Houston Dynamo

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Houston Dynamo’s key signings and departures and what they could mean for them in the 2018 MLS season…

Houston Dynamo bounced back in a big way last season. They finished bottom of the West in 2016 but responded with a major reshuffle and ended the 2017 campaign in fourth spot, making the playoffs for the first time in four years. They went all the way to the Conference Semifinal, where they were brushed aside by Seattle. But it was a positive season and the aim will now be to build on that. They’ve retained the services of key players such as Alberth Elis and Juan Cabezas on permanent deals. But they haven’t stopped there and have ensured changes have been made to keep them competitive in 2018…

Key Signings

Arturo Alvarez: Alvarez joins Houston from Chicago Fire, where he scored three goals and added two assists in 25 games last season. At 32, he brings key experience to the dressing room and should provide valuable depth in the final third. He will be entering the 13th MLS season of his career and should be a good addition for Wilmer Cabrera’s men.

Chris Seitz: One of the key positions for recruitment this offseason was the goalkeeping spot. And Houston wasted no time in dealing with it as they brought in the experienced Chris Seitz via free agency, following his release from FC Dallas. He is an MLS veteran, with 11 seasons behind him, but at 30 he is still young in goalkeeping terms. He enjoyed his best season in 2016, playing 28 games for Dallas as they won the Supporters’ Shield. But he had to play second fiddle to Jesse Gonzalez in 2017 and is now ready for a new challenge in Houston.

Darwin Ceren: The signing of Darwin Ceren should really solidify the Dynamo’s midfield. He joins the club from San Jose Earthquakes, who picked up around $175,000 in allocation money for his services. Ceren has played 75 regular season matches over the past three seasons, scoring two goals with six assists. He knows the league well enough now and should shore up the Dynamo’s midfield with his tenacious approach.

Alejandro Fuenmayor: The 21-year-old defender joins from Venezuelan top flight side Carabobo FC, where he made his debut at age 17 in 2013. Despite his young age, Fuenmayor is experienced and should shore up a Dynamo defence that had the sixth-best defence in 2017. He has already played over 70 professional matches in his homeland and helped Carabobo to boast the Venezuelan league’s best defence last year.

Notable Departures

Jalil Anibaba: Anibaba has left the Dynamo after two seasons and has since joined up with the New England Revolution. He is an MLS veteran and played 38 games for Houston over the past two seasons. However, only eight of those appearances came last term, so it’s clear that he was no longer needed. His departure does remove some key experience from the team’s backline though.

Ricardo Clark: Another experienced Dynamo player to depart is Ricardo Clark. The 34-year-old midfielder had been with Houston since the summer of 2012, playing 178 games over the past six seasons. He failed to score last season – the first time that’s happened in his 13-season MLS career – but did add two assists and his presence in the dressing room with no doubt be missed. He has since signed with the Columbus Crew via free agency.

Alex: After picking up 11 assists in 32 regular season games last season, Alex will more than likely be missed in 2018. The Dynamo had tried to agree terms to extend his stay with them beyond the 2017 campaign but an agreement couldn’t be reached. He has since moved to South Korea to join Suwon FC on a presumably bigger salary that the one being offered by Houston.

Erick Torres: Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres has returned to Liga MX with Pumas UNAM for an undisclosed fee, following three years in Houston. He led the team in goals last year with 14. But unfortunately, he was only able to find the net twice in his final ten games of the regular season. His goals will be missed and his presence in the attack will be difficult to replace. But the decision to move him on following the offer from Pumas makes sense.

Tyler Deric: Deric departed Houston in damaging circumstances, following his arrest and charge with domestic assault. He was suspended following the incident in November and understandably released following the 2017 season. Deric is currently not eligible to be signed by any MLS team until his league suspension is lifted.

Gallery: Exclusive photos as the Sounders clinch Western Conference Championship in style against Houston

For the second year running, the Seattle Sounders are the Western Conference Champions. And for the second year running, they will travel to Toronto for the MLS Cup Final. They won the title last year and will be looking to defend the cup in what should be another intriguing finale.

The Sounders seem to come alive in the playoffs. They didn’t enjoy the best of regular seasons but once again rallied when it mattered most and came into the postseason in good form. That form has only improved as they’ve yet to conceded in this season’s playoffs.

Last week’s 2-0 win in Houston was impressive. But they made sure of the job by winning 3-0 in Thursday night’s second-leg, taking the series 5-0 on aggregate.

Goals from Victor Rodriguez, Clint Dempsey and Will Bruin got the job done in style on Thursday, albeit against a shorthanded Dynamo side that once again finished the game with 10 men. But the added bonus for the Sounders was seeing Jordan Morris return to the field for the first time since September.

Check out exclusive photos from the Sounders Western Conference Championship win on Thursday, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Final (2nd Leg): Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo

CenturyLink Field – Thursday, November 30 – 22:30 ET (03:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Seattle 3/4 – Draw 5/2 – Houston 7/2

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Preview

The Seattle Sounders welcome Houston Dynamo to CenturyLink Field on Thursday night for the second-leg of the 2017 Western Conference Final.

Many felt the Dynamo had nothing to lose heading into last week’s first-leg. But it seems whatever they did have to lose was lost on the night as the Sounders ran out 2-0 winners against a Houston side that had 10 men for more than an hour.

Jalil Anibaba’s 28th-minute red card left the Dynamo with a mountain to climb. Joe Willis may have saved the resulting penalty kick from Nicolas Lodeiro but they were already 1-0 down and that lead was doubled when Will Bruin fired in before halftime.

The Sounders had plenty more chances to put the game – and probably the tie – to bed but the Dynamo held on to somehow retain some form of optimistic hope ahead of Thursday’s second leg.

But make no mistake about it, Seattle have taken one giant stride into the MLS Cup Final. They have two crucial away goal and are well on track to have a chance at retaining their championship on December 9.

The Dynamo have to score at least two goals to have any chance at turning the tie around on Thursday night. But the Sounders have only conceded more than one goal at home on two occasions this season. And didn’t lose either of those games.

Seattle are unbeaten in 15 at home. They don’t need to attack Houston and should be able to wait for opportunities to attack on the counter. The odds of Houston advancing are slim but it should set up an exciting game as they have no choice but to go for it.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Team News

The Seattle Sounders won’t be able to call on the services of powerful defender Roman Torres. The Panamanian is suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation but will be back for the MLS Cup Final, should Seattle advance. Stefan Frei missed the first leg with a hamstring strain and could return here, although his status isn’t yet confirmed. Brad Evans and Jordan Morris are ruled out with ongoing injury problems. Osvaldo Alonso is listed as questionable but could be in line to return.

The Dynamo will be without Jalil Anibaba, following his red card in last week’s first leg. Alberth Elis is also suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation. Tyler Deric is suspended as a result of off-field conduct. George Malki, AJ DeLaGarza and Memo Rodriguez remain their only injury absentees.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/W/D/W/W

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: Fortress – Seattle Sounders have won their last four home games (including playoffs) by a combined score of 12-0. It’s been almost seven months since they lost at CenturyLink Field.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The veteran attacker scored twice in the Western Conference Semifinal win over Vancouver at home and will be looking to help the hosts through here. He is playing with extra hunger after missing last season’s run to the title and will be looking to exploit a Houston defence that will undoubtedly leave gaps as they chase a comeback.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Houston Dynamo – The Dynamo have to go for it. They have enough attacking options to hurt the Sounders backline, particularly given the absence of Roman Torres. But the problem is, the more they attack, the more open they will be to the Sounders’ ruthless attack. The likes of Lodeiro and Dempsey will be looking to be clinical and put the tie to bed. Expect both sides to score, but the Sounders are surely sailing through to the final.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Final (1st Leg): Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders

BBVA Compass Stadium – Tuesday, November 21 – 21:30 ET (02:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Houston 11/8 – Draw 2/1 – Seattle 2/1

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders: Preview

The defending MLS Cup champions are two games away from a return to the league’s showpiece event. Standing in the Seattle Sounders‘ way are the Houston Dynamo, who have surprised most people with their impressive run to the Western Conference Final.

The two sides will do battle over two legs, starting in Houston on Tuesday night before the second-leg in Seattle the following Thursday. The winner of the series will advance to the 2017 MLS Cup Final.

Houston have already seen off one Cascadia side as they beat Portland 2-1 on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals two weeks ago. Goals from Dylan Remick and Mauro Manotas were too much for the 2015 champions. And now Wilmer Cabrera’s men will be looking to get past the 2016 champs.

Houston have grown in confidence in recent months. They are unbeaten in two months and surged into the postseason after winning three of their last four games – all of which were at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Home advantage is vital for the Dynamo on Tuesday. They will be desperate to win the game, but will not want to allow the Sounders an away goal. They must get their approach right to ensure they stay in the contest ahead of the second-leg.

The Sounders have two key advantages. Firstly, they can play the second-leg at home. Secondly, they’ve got very recent experience at this stage of the season, having gone all the way 12 months ago.

Brian Schmetzer’s men got past Cascadia rivals Vancouver in the conference semi’s, winning 2-0 on aggregate. They drew the first leg 0-0 and may well be looking to earn a similar result on the road here. They’ve not won away in five and haven’t scored a goal in the latest four of them.

Oh, and the Sounders have yet to win a game in Houston in club history. They would love to change that record but will be more focused on the series, as opposed to just the 90 minutes at BBVA Compass Stadium on Tuesday.

This will be just the second ever playoff series matchup between the two sides. They met in the Western Conference semifinals in 2009, at the end of the Sounders’ inaugural MLS campaign. A 0-0 draw at CenturyLink Field was followed by a 1-0 extra-time win for the Dynamo at home in the second leg.

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders: Team News

Houston will be without suspended first-choice goalkeeper Tyler Deric so Joe Willis will continue between the sticks. George Malki, AJ DeLaGarza and Memo Rodriguez are all sidelined through injury. There are also concerns over the fitness of Honduran trio Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia. All three travelled to Australia for the second leg of their unsuccessful World Cup playoff and might be fatigued as a result.

Seattle Sounders should welcome back Osvaldo Alonso to midfield for Tuesday’s crucial game. While Jordan Morris could also return after two months out with a hamstring strain. Victor Rodriguez and Chad Marshall are listed as questionable, along with Morris and Alonso but Seattle will be hopeful of getting all four players back on the field. Brad Evans is definitely out.

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders: Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: It’s been 467 minutes (7 hours and 47 minutes) since the Seattle Sounders last conceded a playoff goal. That came in the first-leg of last season’s Western Conference Final matchup with the Colorado Rapids, which Seattle won 2-1.

Key Player: Stefan Frei – The Sounders keep enjoys playing in big occasions like this. He was the hero in last season’s final and has yet to concede in the playoffs this season. If he can keep that record going beyond the 90 minutes in Houston on Tuesday, the Sounders will feel they have one foot in the final.

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction

Houston Dynamo 0-0 Seattle Sounders – It’s always difficult to predict how a first-leg in a series as important as this will go, but it looks certain to be cagey. Both sides drew 0-0 in the first-legs of their Western Conference Semifinal clashes and may well adopt the same gameplan here. Houston might feel they have to attack the Sounders but that would also leave them exposed on the counter. Expect a nervy contest but one that should set up an intriguing second leg next week.

Gallery: Exclusive images as Houston stun Portland to advance to Western Conference Final

The Houston Dynamo stunned the Portland Timbers with a 2-1 comeback win at Providence Park on Sunday night. The 2015 MLS Cup champions were eliminated on their own turf, with the Dynamo advancing to the Western Conference Final, where they’ll face the Seattle Sounders.

This time last year, Houston were the worst side in the Western Conference. Now, they are just two legs away from the 2017 MLS Cup Final. Their turnaround has been remarkable and they fully deserved their win at Portland on Sunday.

Dairon Asprilla gave the hosts the lead on 39 minutes, blasting the ball high and beyond Joe Willis. Asprilla’s task was made significantly easier by an unfortunate slip from Dynamo defender Dylan Remick.

However, Remick would soon atone for his error. Just four minutes later he volleyed the Dynamo level. That goal left the Houston in control, due to their away goal. Portland needed one more but couldn’t find it.

Then, in the 77th minute Mauro Manotas struck from distance and beat Jeff Attinella to put the game beyond Portland’s reach. The Dynamo advanced against the odds, leaving Portland players and fans stunned at the fact their season ended in such fashion.

Houston will face the Seattle Sounders over two legs in the Western Conference final, with the winner advancing to MLS Cup to take on either Toronto FC or Columbus Crew SC.

Check out exclusive pictures from Sunday night’s game, courtesy of MLSGB Photographer Denise McCooey.

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MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

BBVA Compass Stadium – Thursday, October 26 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Houston 23/20 – Draw 9/4 – Sporting KC 23/10

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Preview

Houston Dynamo take on Sporting Kansas City for the third time in two weeks on Thursday night. But this time, it’s in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. This has all the makings of a classic Knockout Round clash, but only one side can make it through to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Dynamo leapfrogged SKC on Decision Day and earned home-field advantage for Thursday’s game as a result. They come into the playoffs in good form and are favourites to advance.

Houston have improved drastically from a year ago. They are unbeaten in six games – drawing at SKC and beating them 2-1 at home in that time – and only lost once at home during the regular season.

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They rounded off the regular season with a 3-0 home win over Chicago Fire. That result sets them up perfectly, but they did lose two players to injury. AJ DeLaGarza has been ruled out the playoffs but Romell Quioto could return for Thursday’s game, but his status isn’t yet known.

Sporting Kansas City will have to try and get the job done without Tim Melia. The goalkeeper has probably been their best player this season but hasn’t played in almost a month as a result of a hamstring injury.

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The visitors don’t have any kind of promising form to take into this game. They haven’t won in five and only picked up two roads wins all season. Peter Vermes’ men need to put in one hell of a performance if they’re to make the Conference Semifinals.

As mentioned, this will be the third meeting between the two sides in two weeks. Sporting KC won at Houston in the US Open Cup back in June on the way to their win in the competition. But they failed to win either of the two regular season clashes.

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Team News

Houston will hope Romell Quioto is passed fit to play after leaving Sunday’s game with an injury. AJ DeLaGarza will miss the playoffs after tearing his ACL. George Malki and Memo Rodriguez remain sidelined, while Philippe Senderos is listed as ‘questionable’.

Sporting KC will be without Tim Melia once again. That means Andrew Dykstra will start in goal. Cameron Porter is the only other injury absence for the visitors

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/L/D/L

Key Stat: Houston are unbeaten in eight regular season games against Sporting KC. They’ve won four and drawn four of those games, outscoring them 16-10.

Key Player: Romell Quioto – Houston will be desperate for the Honduran attacker to be fit. They’ve averaged 0.4 more points-per-game with him, than without him. If he plays, they’ll be the threat they have been so often this season.

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Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Prediction

Houston Dynamo 2-0 Sporting Kansas City – Form might not matter as much as usual during knockout football. But in the case of Thursday’s game, it’s hard to see how Sporting Kansas City can turn their fortunes around. They haven’t looked good in recent weeks. They’ve failed to beat Houston home or away. And they are struggling for goals. The Dynamo are strong at home and are riding high. They should make it through to the Conference Semifinals without too much trouble.

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – Vancouver looking to win conference as playoff race heats up

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – The playoff race in the Western Conference is set to go down to the wire. The Vancouver Whitecaps lead Sporting Kansas City by three points heading into what should be an action-packed Week 32. Ten of the eleven Western Conference sides play each other, while Portland host DC United in the only inter-conference matchup of the weekend.

All of this week’s games involving sides from the West will kickoff at the same time on Sunday night at 19:30 ET (00:30 BST). So you can guarantee there will be drama as some teams look to nail down playoff berths, and others are fighting to keep their dreams alive. Read on for all of this weekend’s Western Conference predictions: MLS week 32 should be a good one…

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Real Salt Lake

This late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash is a big deal. Real Salt Lake are still fighting to get into the playoffs with two games to go. But they must travel to the home of their fiercest rival in MLS. The Rapids’ playoffs hopes have been over for some time but they would love nothing more than to ruin RSL’s season on Sunday night. Real Salt Lake, though, have only lost one of their last six. A loss would likely spell the end to their season, depending on other results, so they must avoid defeat.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Houston Dynamo

These two meet for the second time in five days on Sunday. The Dynamo prevented SKC going joint-top of the West with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They gave their own playoffs hopes a huge boost with that win and will be looking to take at least one more point off of SKC here. Sporting KC haven’t yet secured a playoff berth, despite sitting second with two games to go. A victory would solve that issue, but the absence of goalkeeper Tim Melia could be significant.

LA Galaxy 2-3 Minnesota United

Few people would have thought LA Galaxy would be coming into the penultimate weekend of the season seven points behind Minnesota United. But the problems in LA this season have left them with a year to forget. They will want to avoid finishing dead last in the West and need to try and end the season on a high. But Minnesota are in fairly good form, having only lost one of their last five. They beat Atlanta United in their latest road trip and could add to LA’s misery on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas

Both these sides come into the weekend in playoff spots, but know a defeat on Sunday could put them in real trouble. Seattle have two home games remaining. They sit fourth and could still finish the season with a Knockout Round bye. FC Dallas are in a much more precarious position. They are only a point above RSL and San Jose in the final playoff spot and can’t really afford to drop any points. Head coach Oscar Pareja has called this game “the season”, and he’s not wrong. But they aren’t in good form and have lost four-straight games at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The Whitecaps are the only Western Conference side to have sealed a playoff berth with 180 minutes of football to go. That’s quite incredible but also testament to their consistency this season. They can guarantee a Knockout Round bye with a home win agains San Jose on Sunday. But the visitors are fighting for their lives too. The Quakes beat Portland last time out to keep their top six hopes intact. But they still need to overtake RSL and Dallas to seal a playoff spot. Vancouver are a real force at home and should prove too much for San Jose.

Portland Timbers 3-0 DC United

Portland missed the chance to seal their playoff spot when they fell 2-1 at San Jose last time out. That result also saw them drop out of the top two. They do now have two home games to finish the season though and will expect to beat DC on Sunday. The Eastern Conference playoff race is over and DC United won’t be playing postseason football. They’ll still want to show some fight but the fact is they will finish bottom of the East after a poor season. Don’t expect them to spoil things in Portland.