Match analysis: Dempsey goal gives Seattle 1-0 win over Chivas

Seattle Sounders FC put in a complete performance against Chivas de Guadalajara as they thrilled the home crowd with a 1-0 win. Both sides played aggressively and the game became an end-to-end affair for much of the second half. A strong defensive performance from Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei helped Seattle keep a clean sheet while it was Clint Dempsey who would score the winner in the 78th minute.

Chivas opened the match with intense pressure on the ball, forcing Seattle into mistakes early on. Eleven minutes into the match Alejandro Mayorga slipped into the box in front of the Seattle defense to register the first shot of the match. Stefan Frei had to make himself big to make the save and then paw away the rebound and keep a clean sheet.

In the 33rd minute a slip by Roman Torres gave Alan Pulido a one-on-one opportunity versus Frei and it looked like Chivas would take the lead. Pulido’s final touch was too strong and allowed Frei enough time to close down on the ball an deny Pulido from finding the net.

Seattle seemed to wake up after the Pulido chance as they began to gain more possession and create chances although the chances were further from goal and didn’t trouble keeper Rodolfo Cota.

Don’t miss: In pictures – Seattle Sounders 1-0 Chivas Guadalajara

The second half seemed the exact opposite as Seattle came out as the team pressuring the ball and forcing the issue looking to take the match in their control. Seattle did well to cut down passing lanes and frustrate Guadalajara when in possession to force turnovers. They attacked Chivas down the wings, stretching the defence and creating gaps in the box that would eventually give them the opening goal.

Henry Wingo came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute for Handwalla Bwana, who had an impressive performance in his first start, and made an immediate impact on the wing. Wingo was able to consistently get dangerous balls into the box from out wide and pick out players in open space. In the 78th minute Wingo makes a run towards the corner flag into space and receives a pass from Jordan McCrary. He lets the ball run until about five yards from the endline before whipping in a low cross right in between four Guadalajara players to the feet of Dempsey for a first-time strike past Cota.

Through much of the second half, Guadalajara left space open around the top of the box and were beat to crosses as Sounders began to take control of the match. Dempsey had two other chances that looked similar to the play he was able to score on, where a cross from a wide area pulled Chivas out of position and allowed Seattle to find Dempsey for a scoring opportunity. The third of these chances came in the 82nd minute and it looked as though Dempsey would have a wide open goal to target but his shot was skied over the bar.

Seattle will hope the missed opportunities do not come back to haunt them in the second leg as they travel to Guadalajara Wednesday March 14th looking for a result that will send them to the CCL semifinals for the second time in club history.

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In pictures: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Chivas Guadalajara – Dempsey fires Sounders to first-leg victory

The Seattle Sounders completed the job in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal clash with Chivas Guadalajara on Wednesday night. Clint Dempsey fired the game’s only goal late into the second half, giving the Sounders the advantage ahead of the return leg in Mexico.

It was a fairly even match, as expected, with both sides creating opening they will feel they could have scored from. Stefan Frei came up big for Seattle in the first half, denying Alejandro Mayorga and Alan Pulido to keep the score at 0-0.

Will Bruin then came closest to opening the scoring as his header clipped off the post. But Seattle kept plugging away and got their reward on 78 minutes. Henry Wingo came off the bench and did well down the right flank. And it was the homegrown attacker who provided the pass for the breakthrough.

Wingo’s low cross was met by Dempsey in the box, who slotted in first time to earn an important first-leg win for the Sounders. The two sides will meet again next Wednesday at Estadio Chivas to determine who advances to the semi’s.

Check out exclusive photos from Wednesday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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Three potential signings to replace Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy

With the recent retirement of Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy has a huge hole to fill in their squad and an unoccupied designated player slot too. Though replacing the US soccer legend is no easy task.

Donovan leaves behind a great legacy with the Galaxy having recently lead them to his fourth MLS Cup title with the franchise and his sixth overall – the most titles won by any player.

However, it remains to be seen how LA will look to replace him. An attacking option is set to be added to the squad before the start of the new MLS season in March. Though they may wait until the summer if the right name is available then.

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Much of the post-Donovan chat has been on the permanent move to MLS for Erick Torres, but he has gone back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico to help with their ongoing relegation struggle.

Bruce Arena may have to adjust his formation due to the loss of Donovan, which could expand the potential list of suitors.

His current 4-4-2 formation has seemed to work for some time now, but the loss of Donavan leaves a huge hole in the Galaxy squad.

Here are three potential replacements:

Darren Bent (Striker) – Aston Villa (England)

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England international striker Darren Bent has been somewhat of a forgotten man since Paul Lambert took over the reigns at Villa. And so Bent could do with a new challenge after seeing his starting place handed to Belgium front man Christian Benteke.

He could be a great partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane, having previously played at Tottenham Hotspur as well as at Villa together. But this would mean re-positioning Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy attack to accommodate Bent.

Ronaldinho (Attacking Midfielder) – Querétaro F.C. (Mexico)

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The World Cup winning Brazilian needs no introduction and a move to MLS giants LA Galaxy could be the swansong he deserves.

Ronaldinho can operate on either flank, through the middle or up front so he would be a suitable replacement for Donovan in terms of versatility. However, he doesn’t posses the defensive qualities of Donovan and so Zardes could be forced out wide to accommodate Ronaldinho’s arrival too.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfielder) – Juventus (Italy)

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Pass-master Pirlo is a World Cup winner like Ronaldinho and would further strengthen the Galaxy midfield. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho could benefit by having Pirlo just in behind them to give them more freedom to attack.

He’s been linked with a move recently and the potential signing of Pirlo could would allow Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes to continue their lethal strike partnership, while giving them a player who can provide service from deeper.

Who do you think LA Galaxy will replace Landon Donovan with?

Erick Torres heads back to Chivas before possible MLS switch in 6 months

Erick “Cubo” Torres has dominated most of the postseason transfer headlines as his stance has been unclear since Chivas USA were disbanded as a club, but his situation looks to be finally resolved… for now.

The 21-year-old Mexican striker has been in talks with Major League Soccer for some time, as the league looked to keep him in the US. And they may have succeeded, but for now he’s going back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara of Liga MX.

Chivas are in a real relegation scrap as they have won just one of their last ten, and have failed to score in three of their last four. Solution – bring back Torres.

He netted 15 goals in 29 games for a poor Chivas USA side last season and will now look to carry that form into Liga MX to keep Chivas in the top-tier of Mexican football.

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That does not mean a move to MLS is dead in the water though as ESPN soccer reporter Tom Marshall indicated on Twitter.

Torres is expected to still make a return to Major League Soccer and will reportedly join up with a new team at the midpoint of the 2015 season.

The next big question then is ‘who is that team going to be?’ Well it seemed like LA Galaxy were frontrunners for his signature for a long time, as Torres himself was keen on a move to the MLS Cup champions, but the Galaxy are not believed to be interested.

They are looking to replace Landon Donovan with a designated player, but are exploring other options. Another rumoured destination for Torres was the Seattle Sounders, but they too are not believed to be chasing the talented young Mexican at this point.

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Last night, it emerged that the Houston Dynamo were in pole position to bring Torres back to MLS as Ives Galarcep reported on Goal.com.

According to the report, the Dynamo were willing to meet a $7.5 million demand for Torres but by sending him back to Chivas for six months, that fee could be lowered significantly.

The Dynamo therefore will be favourites for his signature after he is done on his rescue mission to Mexico.

Torres needs a home after a turbulent few months and a move to Houston would certainly be an intriguing move.

What do make of the Erick Torres situation? Would Houston Dynamo be a good destination?