Clint Dempsey equals Sounders scoring record in 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire

Clint Dempsey scored his first league goal of the season, tying Fredy Montero for the club scoring record at 47, but Seattle Sounders FC still dropped two points at home to Chicago Fire as an early goal from Aleksandar Katai would be enough for a 1-1 draw.

Chicago would get on the board first thanks to a perfectly placed shot from Katai in the ninth minute of the match. Multiple Sounders failed to close down on the dangerous Serbian forward, giving Katai a window to shoot from about 25 yards out. His shot was destined for the bottom corner of the net as Stefan Frei did his best to get his fingertips on the ball but wasn’t able to push it wide.

To their credit, Seattle came right back at the Fire, dominating possession before finally working a series of passes that ended with Dempsey in front of the net for a tap in. Starting with Kim Kee-Hee, five different Sounders played the ball as they passed through the Fire defence with a creativity that has been missing from their attack this season. The play develops thanks to an incisive through ball from Cristian Roldan to Will Bruin who was then able to put the ball back in front of goal to a sliding Dempsey.

Dempsey was dismissive of the goal having any added significance having tied the club record saying, “I’m just trying to go out and help the team” before focusing on the club’s goal of continuing to make the playoffs every season.

It’s been a tough year for Dempsey first missing out on his last World Cup after the U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify in 2017 for the tournament currently in progress only to have to weather a so far lackluster season in Seattle. At 35 years of age, Dempsey is in the twilight of his career but still says he feels healthy and is “able to move around the field well” but the numerous injuries to teammates like Nico Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez has made it difficult for the forward to score goals.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The last few games having Victor back and Nico back, they make such a huge difference in the team and the way that we play… With them in there we’re able to get more numbers forward and create better chances,” said Dempsey.

The result is ultimately a disappointing one for the club as they desperately need to collect maximum points, especially at home, to get back into the playoff picture. It feels even more disappointing when you factor in Chicago sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference and that many of their starters also played in their U.S. Open Cup match just days earlier.

Seattle is running out of time to make the playoffs sitting 11 points back of the sixth and final playoff position with just 20 games remaining but have a great opportunity at home on Saturday against hated rivals Portland Timbers who are currently in a three-way tie for fourth. Seattle will be hoping Dempsey’s goal will get him back to his scoring ways against the team he has already scored against nine times in just ten matches.

Advertisements

Roldan brothers outshine Dempsey, Eikrem as Schmetzer makes lineup changes

The starting lineup for Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday likely had many fans scratching their heads before they took on Minnesota United FC. Both Clint Dempsey and Magnus Wolff Eikrem started on the bench while 2018 second-round draft pick Alex Roldan got his second-straight start. The decision made coach Brian Schmetzer look more tactical genius than perhaps expected as Roldan brought energy to a side desperate for an attacking jolt. Once Dempsey subbed on for Roldan in the 60th minute, a resulting drop in energy allowed Minnesota back into the match as they pulled a goal back on 66 minutes and created problems for Seattle’s defense as they tried to close out the match.

With Alex Roldan on the left wing and his brother Cristian in the center of the field, Seattle have two players who are very active both offensively and defensively. They make the game difficult for defences and midfields because they are able to constantly pressure the ball and force opponents into mistakes.

When Dempsey entered the match for the younger Roldan brother, it pushed Cristian out wide where he is less effective. It pinned him to one side of the field and kept him from being able to cover space in the center. Dempsey at 35 years of age doesn’t range back on defense like the Roldan’s do and is seemingly incapable of pressuring opponents when trying to regain possession.

This problem was further exacerbated when Eikrem was brought on for Alonso as Roldan dropped from the wing back into defensive midfield next to Svensson as Eikrem slotted into the left wing. Eikrem is most effective when he has the ball at his feet and can distribute in any direction which is why traditionally he plays in the center of the field. When on the wings, he looks out of place and also doesn’t defend as actively as needed from that position. Such was the case on Sunday.

Don’t miss: In pictures: Alonso and Roldan brothers lead Seattle to 3-1 win over Minnesota

Leaving Dempsey and Eikrem on the bench for Seattle means leaving a Designated Player and a Targeted Allocation Money signing out of the starting 11 which creates a financial issue for the Sounders. With only 4 points from their first five games, Sounders are in need of results now and continuing to start the Roldan brothers over more expensive counterparts could be the immediate – if only short term – solution the club needs.

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.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2018 Key Transfers: Seattle Sounders FC

With the 2018 MLS season just a few days away now, we have been running through the standout transfers 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 Seattle Sounders and their key signings and departures ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Seattle Sounders FC look to return to MLS Cup for a third straight year in 2018 after falling short in the final to Toronto FC. With CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) matches on the schedule for Seattle this season, coach Brian Schmetzer has spent this offseason adding depth to his side instead of focusing on bringing big name targets to the club. Veterans Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro are still set to lead the attack, with both eager to bring a second championship to the Emerald City and their supporters. The added depth should allow Seattle to maintain their fitness this year as they look to secure both domestic and international hardware in 2018. The potential loss of Jordan Morris for the season poses a major concern though, if reports about the severity of his knee injury prove to be true.

Key Signings

Waylon Francis: The veteran defender comes to Seattle via trade from Columbus to help add depth at left-back alongside 20-year-old Nouhou after Joevin Jones left for Darmstadt in the winter window (more on him later). He and Nouhou will be competing against each other for minutes this year, something that Schmetzer hopes will push both players to improve throughout the season. Francis has performed well in preseason and picked up Schmetzer’s system quickly as he looks to log serious minutes in Rave Green this year.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem: The Norwegian midfielder was signed on a free transfer from Malmo FF and has already shown his ability to mesh well with Clint Dempsey in preseason, helping to set up goals with quick passes and skilled ball control in traffic. While the Sounders do have a good amount of depth in the midfield already, with the extra CCL matches on the schedule in 2018, Eikrem will give Schmetzer more options and more ability to rotate players for rest. Expect Eikrem to play in an attacking midfield position with the Sounders as well as some appearances as a wing midfielder as needed.

Handwalla Bwana: Seattle’s newest Homegrown Player signing has already impressed this preseason and with the busy schedule this year it’s likely he’ll find first team minutes at some point. Bwana will be trying to replicate Nouhou’s rookie season as he made the most of his rookie contract, playing crucial minutes in the playoffs and setting himself up to be the frontrunner for the left-back position this year. Bwana will have a lot more competition in midfield though and will have to have some stellar performances to steal starts from more veteran players.

Notable Departures

Joevin Jones: Jones’s transfer to Darmstadt was no surprise as the arrangements had been made the previous summer. Much of the late-season drama around Jones stemmed from his desire to leave for Germany in the summer and Seattle’s desire to keep him for the playoffs. Jones grew into a very dangerous attacker from a left-back position and his absence will definitely be felt but with the signing of Francis and growth of Nouhou, Seattle should be able to replace his impact this season.

Brad Evans: The former Sounders captain struggled through injury last season and has gone through constant uncertainty the last few years as he’s been moved from right-mid to right-back to centre-back while Seattle has made numerous signings in those same positions. Evans’s contract ran up this offseason and he exercised his options in free agency to sign with Sporting Kansas City. His departure has already saddened fans and teammates alike as many have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment while wishing him the best including Chad Marshall and yours truly. Truthfully Evans would have found it difficult to get minutes in this roster as deep as it is right now and the move to KC was the best decision for his career

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gallery: Dempsey double fires Sounders past Whitecaps and into Conference Final

The Seattle Sounders have moved one step closer to retaining their MLS Cup title. The reigning champions outclassed the Vancouver Whitecaps in Thursday’s Western Conference Semifinal second-leg, winning 2-0 thanks to a Clint Dempsey brace.

The veteran attacker was playing his first playoff game in almost two years but rose to the occasion in fine style. The game was tense, as expected following the scoreless draw in the first leg at BC Place.

It was going to take a moment of magic to breakthrough and that’s exactly what the hosts provided just 10 minutes into the second-half. Five Sounders were involved in a fast and intricate passing move, which ended with Dempsey firing past Stefan Marinovic.

The ‘Caps never really threatened to get back into the game. At 1-0 down, they needed just the one goal to put themselves in the driving seat. But they were unable to find the goal and were punished late on as Dempsey sealed the win.

A short corner led to a fine Victor Rodriguez cross, which Dempsey tapped in at the back post. He had two. The Sounders were through. Vancouver will be disappointed they failed to score in either leg, but they can still look back on what was a promising season.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

World Cup Qualifying Preview and Prediction: USA vs Costa Rica

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier (CONCACAF): USA vs Costa Rica

Red Bull Arena – Friday, September 1 – 18:55 ET (23:55 BST)

Match Odds: USA 7/10 – Draw 23/10 – Costa Rica 4/1

USA vs Costa Rica: Preview

The USA (2-2-2) host Costa Rica (3-1-2) in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Red Bull Arena on Friday night. The United States have not lost a game since Bruce Arena took over as head coach from Jurgen Klinsmann. But the USA’s last defeat did come in their 4-0 qualifying loss at Costa Rica last December.

That heavy defeat left the USA bottom of the Hexagonal after back-to-back defeats. Klinsmann’s time was up and Arena was brought back in. Things have improved dramatically since.

The USMNT now sit third in the Hex, three points behind Costa Rica with four games to go. If they can win here, they will move ahead of Los Ticos on goal difference.

Recent form suggests the USA should prove too strong. They are unbeaten in 14 under Arena and have won five-straight games. They beat Costa Rica 2-0 on their way to winning the 2017 Gold Cup Final against Jamaica last month and are on a roll.

Costa Rica haven’t played since that semifinal loss to the United States at last month’s Gold Cup. They started the Hex in blistering form, scoring six goals in two games without conceding. But they have since won just one of their four qualifiers.

Embed from Getty Images

They still have a squad strong enough to win any game in qualifying, but they must get back to where they were at this stage last year. They went unbeaten from June to January last year, posting a 7-0-3 record in that run.

The USA haven’t lost a home World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica since 1985. They have won six of their last eight home games against Los Ticos since that loss 32 years ago.

USA vs Costa Rica: Team News

USA head coach Bruce Arena hasn’t included any surprise call-ups in his squad for the upcoming qualifiers. 18 of the 26 players play in MLS and are in optimum shape at this stage of the regular season. While stars from European clubs such as Christian Pulisic, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson will all expect to start. Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore will all pick up a suspension if they receive yellow cards on Friday night.

Costa Rica will have to cope without star winger Joel Campbell. He is recovering from knee surgery and is ruled out for some time. Los Ticos do still have top talent to call on though, with Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas the standout name in the roster. Seven MLS players are included in the Costa Rica squad, including Vancouver duo Kendall Waston and Cristian Bolanos as well as Portland’s David Guzman and NYCFC’s Rodney Wallace. San Jose Earthquakes’ Marcos Urena might start up front.

USA vs Costa Rica: Key Points

USA’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Costa Rica’s last five: W/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: The USA are unbeaten in 14 games since Bruce Arena took over from Jurgen Klinsmann last December. They’ve gone 9-0-5 under Arena in 2017.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The USA veteran needs one more goal to become the USMNT’s all-time leading goalscorer. He is currently tied with Landon Donovan on 57 and will break the record if he finds the back of the net here. He has four in his last seven internationals and comes into Friday’s game in good form with the Sounders. He’s also the leading scorer in the Hex coming into Friday’s fixtures.

Embed from Getty Images

USA vs Costa Rica: Prediction

USA 2-0 Costa Rica – The USA have won their last two home qualifiers without conceding a goal. That shouldn’t change on Friday as they arrive in high spirits with an experienced squad of stars. Costa Rica’s qualifying campaign is almost the complete opposite of the United States’. They started well but now look vulnerable and a resurgent USMNT should get the job done at Red Bull Arena on Friday.

Gallery: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Last-gasp Dempsey penalty breaks Loons hearts

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Minnesota were seconds away from picking up an impressive away draw at Seattle on Sunday. But then the referee pointed to the spot. Clint Dempsey stepped up, and converted to complete the hosts’ comeback victory.

Minnesota have still yet to win an away game in MLS. But they must have fancied their chances when new arrival Ethan Finlay scored on his Loons debut. The former Columbus man put the visitors 1-0 up against the odds. But their lead didn’t last long.

Set-pieces have hurt Minnesota so often this season and Sunday was no different. Chad Marshall headed home from Nicolas Lodeiro’s cross in the 31st minute to tie the game up. But the Sounders struggled to kick on.

Minnesota stood firm and created chances themselves, with rookie striker Abu Danladi missing a couple of golden opportunities. The scores were level heading into the final few seconds. But then Seattle got the penalty.

Jermaine Taylor was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area. Dempsey stepped up and coolly slotted past Bobby Shuttleworth to give the hosts their third-straight win. The Sounders are top of the West. The Loons stay bottom.

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

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Gallery:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle Sounders’ 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt

Seattle Sounders drew 1-1 with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon in an international friendly at CenturyLink Field.

With MLS currently on a two-week break due to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Saturday’s friendly gave the Sounders squad the chance to ensure they maintain their match fitness. They don’t play again now until their home clash with DC United on July 19.

Eintracht Frankfurt are currently preparing for the upcoming 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign. They won their first preseason outing 15-0 against SV Heftrich on Tuesday before flying to the USA.

Their clash with the Sounders was their first proper test of the summer. While they still have games against San Jose and Columbus to come before heading back to Germany.

Get 10% off all purchases from Classic Football Shirts by using code: CFSAW10

US International Timmy Chandler played for the visitors in Saturday’s draw. He sent the cross in that lead to Branimir Hrgota’s opening goal in the 29th minute.

But Frankfurt’s lead was short lived as Clint Dempsey kept his hot streak going by netting on the stroke of halftime. Nicolas Lodeiro picked up the assist.

Check out exclusive photos below from Saturday’s game between Seattle Sounders and Eintracht Frankfurt, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Paul Kahl.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.