Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s 2-2 draw with Club America

Seattle Sounders endured mixed emotions as they played their first competitive match of 2016 on Tuesday night as they drew 2-2 at home to Club America in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal clash.

Seattle led twice, with Clint Dempsey scoring both goals, but the Liga MX side battled well to earn a valuable 2-2 draw, with the two away goals a blow for the Sounders.

A huge crowd of 42,836 were in attendance at CenturyLink Field for the game – a club record for a CONCACAF Champions League match – and they will have been pleased by the performance of their team.

Check out the following photos from Tuesday’s game, taken by MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey in Seattle:

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

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Sigi Schmid “very proud” after Sounders’ 2-2 draw with Club America

The CONCACAF Champions League sprung back into life on Tuesday night with the first legs of the quarterfinals getting underway. Seattle Sounders earned a 2-2 draw at home to Club America in what was their first competitive match of 2016, with Clint Dempsey scoring both of the Sounders’ goals.

Seattle had the daunting prospect of hosting reigning champions Club America in a tricky looking game but will be pleased with their performance, even if the result wasn’t what they wanted.

Dempsey’s performance in particular will have delighted the capacity crowd of 42,836 at CenturyLink Field – a club record for a CONCACAF Champions League match – with the forward looking very sharp on either side of the ball.

His excellent free-kick before halftime put Seattle in front, before a very quick response from the Liga MX giants made it 1-1 at the break. Dempsey then headed the Rave Green back in front in the 52nd minute, only for Oribe Peralta to net a valuable second goal for Club America.

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the performance of his players, despite letting a lead go twice at home, and thinks there are positives to take from the game heading into the second-leg.

“Obviously there are things we want to get better at moving forward, and we will,” he said after the game. “For this stage of our season, and for where they are in their season, and the quality of team they are, I thought we showed well. I was very proud with what our guys did.

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“I think Clint played very well. He’s coming off the left for us – we were trying to give him some spaces there in the first half – and we needed [Andreas] Ivanschitz to push a little wider left to allow Clint to stay up higher. In the second half, he was able to stay higher, so more of his touches came in the attacking end of the field. Those are tweaks in the system that we are working on and getting better with.”

Seattle will travel to Mexico for the second-leg of their clash with Club America next Wednesday before hosting Sporting KC in their 2016 MLS opener on Sunday, March 6.

Were you impressed with Seattle’s performance against Club America on Tuesday night?

*Header image courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC. Photo taken by Jane Gershovich.

PHOTOS: Exclusive images from United’s win over Club America in Seattle

Manchester United got their preseason campaign underway in fine style with a solid 1-0 win over Club America in their International Champions Cup match at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, the home of both the Seahawks and Sounders.

Morgan Schneiderlin scored the only goal of the game inside five minutes as he enjoyed a dream start to life in a United shirt, heading in Juan Mata’s cross to the delight of Louis Van Gaal.

“He scored with Southampton, I believe five goals, so it is not a coincidence but we have practised this with him so I was very pleased with the performance,” the Dutchman said after the game.

“We didn’t give a goal away, only one or two chances, so I am satisfied about that. We played like a team and [Club] America was very handy with the ball, all of the players were very aggressive and quick, so it was not so easy.”

United continue their ICC run when they face Major League Soccer outfit San Jose Earthquakes at their new Avaya Stadium on Tuesday night, before facing FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Check out our exclusive photos from the game in Seattle on Friday night below, courtesy of our North American photographer Denise McCooey.

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PHOTOS: Exclusive images of United training in Seattle, new signings featured

Manchester United start their preseason campaign on Friday night with their first International Champions Cup match taking place in Seattle against Club America.

The Red Devils then fly out to California to face the San Jose Earthquakes, before key games against FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

New United signings Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian all made the trip to the United States, along with David De Gea despite ongoing exit talks.

Check out all of those players in action as our North American photographer Denise McCooey watched United train at the Seattle Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center – the second largest training facility in the NFL:

Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Louis Van Gaal

Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Wayne Rooney Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Matteo Darmian Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Schweinsteiger Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Morgan Schneiderlin Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Bastian Schweinsteiger Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 David De Gea Manchester United Training Seattle 2015 Memphis Depay

PHOTOS: Steven Gerrard makes LA Galaxy debut in win over Club America

Steven Gerrard made his LA Galaxy debut in the club’s International Champions Cup game against Club America on Saturday night, playing 45 minutes with his new teammates in front of 27,924 fans at StubHub Center.

The former Liverpool midfielder helped the Galaxy to a 2-1 win on the night, despite going behind early on, and he was delighted to have got his first piece of action under his belt.

“It was a great feeling,” Gerrard said after the game. “It was a difficult game and I thought [Club América] were very good. I thought after 15 or 20 minutes that the team settled really well, we played some good football and we got our deserved equalizer.

“For me personally, it was good to get 45 minutes under my belt and I’ll keep getting better and better and the more I get used to my teammates, I’ll improve.”

WATCH – Highlights of Steven Gerrard’s first performance in an LA Galaxy shirt:


His manager, Bruce Arena, was equally pleased to see the English hero make his debut but he refused to confirm whether or not Gerrard will play against Real Salt Lake in their US Open Cup quarterfinal clash on Tuesday.

“I think Steven played well, we are going to see how he feels tomorrow and Monday before we make a decision moving forward for Open Cup,” Arena said.

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“His passing was very good, his partnership with Juninho was good, he won some tackles, helped create some chances, he could have had a goal, the ‘keeper made a great save on him. For his first time out it was very encouraging, he looked like he belonged, his leadership was really good, and I thought he was solid.”

If Gerrard doesn’t play on Tuesday night, he will expect to make his MLS debut against fierce rivals San Jose Earthquakes next Friday.

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Manchester United great reveals good news ahead of preseason tour

Manchester United great, Denis Irwin, believes Louis Van Gaal‘s organisation of the club’s preseason tour in the US will benefit the side.

Van Gaal was unable to have much of a say on his side’s America tour last summer due to his involvement with Holland in the World Cup.

But the United manager has made certain there will not be a repeat of the travelling ahead of the new season and Irwin told manutd.com the squad will be under less strain as a result.

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“Last year he came in late because of how well the Dutch team did at the World Cup, so it wasn’t his tour in terms of preparation.

“This time he’s been able to organise it himself, organise the distances we travel, where we stay, where we train and also organise having the matches four days apart.”

United face Club America on July 17, followed by Major League Soccer outfit, San Jose Earthquakes on July 21 before two showdown clashes against Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain on July 25 and 29.

Irwin feels Van Gaal’s preparation is spot on and that the players will ready to come up against some tough opposition.

“His preparation is unique because of the amount of detail there is to it. He’ll be looking forward to it and the way the games are with Barcelona and PSG as the final two means it’ll get tougher as the tour goes on, but the players’ fitness will also improve so the set-up will be exactly how the manager wants it.”

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United faced five opponents in their last preseason, with games spaced closer together. A hectic 11 day period saw them play five games against LA Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool between July 24 and August 5, whereas this summer they play four sides across 12 days.

Will a less hectic preseason help Manchester United ahead of their 2015/16 campaign?

Preview: Montreal Impact face triple threat in Champions League final first leg

By Sandy Beeson – Twitter: @Sandy_Beeson

For Montreal Impact, facing Mexican giants Club América in the CONCACAF Champions League final would seem a stern enough challenge on its own, but when you factor in both a record attendance and a substantial increase in altitude, Wednesday’s first leg becomes even more daunting for the history-making Canadian side.

Reports from Mexico suggest that the iconic Estadio Azteca has already sold out with a 105,000 capacity crowd expected. That figure would eclipse any equivalent attendance from UEFA’s showpiece event since Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in 1960 in front of 127,621 at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.

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Fortunately for the Impact, the second leg will be hosted at Montreal’s Stade Olympique where there will also be a capacity crowd, albeit a decidedly more modest audience of 58,000.

Prior to this season, Montreal had held the CONCACAF Champions League attendance record since 2009, until the 55,571 that saw Impact beat Santos Laguna 2-0 was eclipsed by Wednesday’s opponents earlier this month. Club América welcomed 66,208 to the Azteca to witness an emphatic 6-0 semi-final win over Costa Rica’s Herediano to book their place in the final.

Montreal also saw off Costa Rican opposition in the semis, defeating Alajuelense on away goals to become the first ever Canadian side to advance to the final of either the Champions League or its predecessor the Champions Cup. Victory would not only make them the first Canadian champions but also the first MLS champions since the Champions League era began in 2008.

Standing between them and victory is Club América, this season’s top scorers with a formidable 30 goals from the eight games they’ve played. Forwards Darío Benedetto, Martín Zúñiga and Mexican international Oribe Peralta have combined for 14 goals between them, one more than the Impact’s entire total in this year’s competition.

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Not only will Montreal Impact be coming up against this season’s outstanding performers in one of the most formidable arenas in world football, they will do so at an altitude of 2,200 metres. Preparation is key in such circumstances and Montreal have given themselves as much time to acclimatise in Mexico City as possible, having arrived last Wednesday, thanks to a bye week in MLS.

A similar arrangement paid dividends at the quarter-final stage as a Dilly Duka double secured a vital 2-2 in the first leg against Pachuca, following a fortnight acclimatising at 2,400 metres, with Montreal eventually progressing on away goals.

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The Impact would hope for a similar outcome from Wednesday’s game and will need to put in a disciplined defensive display if they are to achieve it. They’ve got the personnel to keep themselves in contention but they will need the likes of former Belgian international Laurent Ciman, experienced centre-back Hassoun Camara and the tenacious Nigel Reo-Coker to perform heroically if they are to still be in the tie by next week’s second leg in Canada.

REVEALED: The highest MLS salaries eclipse those seen in Liga MX

Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX will long be battling for the tag of the best domestic league in the CONCACAF and if player salaries are anything to go by, MLS is winning the battle.

Liga MX has long been considered the superior league, in terms of player quality and business, as well as the fact that the league has seemed to attract the ‘big’ names ahead of MLS in recent years.

But that is changing and changing fast. MLS is growing at an unprecedented level and the 2015 season will be the league’s biggest and best ever as 20 teams will take part for the first time ever and international stars such as Kaka, David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco will grace the league with their quality.

If player salaries are anything to go by, the MLS is now the superior domestic league in the CONCACAF as a list of the top ten highest paid players in Liga MX has been released by Forbes Mexico:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
 Roque Santa Cruz  Cruz Azul  2.6 million USD
 Oribe Peralta  Club America  2.5 million USD
 Darwin Quintero  Club America 1.8 million USD
 Ronaldinho  Queretaro  1.8 million USD
 Angel Reyna  Chivas  1.7 million USD
 Jesus Corona Cruz Azul 1.5million USD
 Marco Fabian  Chivas  1.5 million USD
 Paulo da Silva  Toluca  1.2 million USD
 Dorlan Pabon  Monterrey  1.2 million USD
Mauro Boselli Leon  1.1 million USD

Roque Santa Cruz is the highest paid player in Liga MX, earning 2.6 million dollars annually but that is just a fraction of what Major League Soccer’s highest paid player Sebastian Giovinco is set to earn in 2015 following his move from Juventus this winter.

Giovinco is expected to earn around $7 million in his debut campaign in MLS while fellow newcomer Kaka is set to earn $6.6 million as a base salary.

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Below is a list of MLS players anticipated salaries for 2015. Most are according to the MLS Players’ Union while the salary of Steven Gerrard is based on reported figures. Frank Lampard’s projected salary with New York City FC has not been revealed, though he would likely make the top ten in earnings this year.

It is clear to see that the best players in MLS are earning significantly more than those in Liga MX as a base salary:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC  7.0 million USD
 Kaka  Orlando City SC  6.6 million USD
 David Villa New York City FC 6.0 million USD
 Michael Bradley Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
 Jozy Altidore Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
Clint Dempsey Seattle Sounders 4.9 million USD
Robbie Keane LA Galaxy  4.5 million USD
Steven Gerrard LA Galaxy 4.0 million USD
Jermaine Jones New England Revolution  3.0 million USD
Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders  1.6 million USD

It says a lot that the ninth-highest paid player in MLS, Jermaine Jones would be the highest paid player in Liga MX with his base salary of around $3 million per year.

The Designated Player rule in the United States means a small fraction of players can earn the huge wages seen above, but Liga MX players still earn better salaries on average league-wide.

A report last November revealed players in Mexico would earn an average of $410,139 per season compared to $209,906 per year in MLS on average.

On the field, an MLS side has yet to win the CONCACAF Champions League since the tournament’s inception in 2009.

A Liga MX club has won each year since then, with Monterrey the most successful team with three Champions League titles in six years.

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Real Salt Lake came closest when they reached the final in 2011 but ultimately lost to Monterrey on that occasion.

Things could now be swinging in the favour of MLS though as the rapidly growing league continues to rise on and off the field.

Which league would you class as the best – MLS or Liga MX?