Dempsey says farewell as Sounders get big win over Sporting KC

Clint Dempsey was barely off the field after his retirement ceremony when Sporting Kansas City took the lead at CenturyLink Field but Seattle Sounders FC would come back to score three unanswered to make it eightstraight wins, the most in a single season in the post-shootout era.

Sporting capitalised on Seattle’s inability to clear their box as Diego Rubio scored in just the second minute of the match. Brad Smith tried to clear the ball but was just beat to it by Gerso Fernandes and the bouncing ball sat up perfectly for Rubio who smashed it into the bottom left corner.

Smith would make up for missing the clearance just ten minutes later as Sounders equalized in impressive fashion thanks to a perfect cross from Smith that found Raul Ruidiaz for the easiest of tap-ins from just a few feet out.

 

It was a sloppy first ten minutes for Sounders and while the equalizer did help to tighten up their passing, Kansas City continued to get dangerous looks at goal and forced Seattle to scramble defensively multiple times in the first half.

While Seattle has struggled mightily at times this season, they have consistently done well in defense when forced to scramble.

The first half came close to having some added intrigue as Nico Lodeiro was brought down just outside of the box in stoppage time by Ike Opara and was shouting for a straight red for denying him and obvious goal scoring opportunity after intercepting a pass. While he looked to be in on goal alone at the time, referee Baldomero Toledo decided that centre-back Matt Besler was close enough for it to not be worthy of a straight red and issued a yellow card instead.

Ruidiaz stepped up to take the free kick but hit it poorly right at the wall for the final play of the first half.

While it’s safe to say the first half was less than impressive from Seattle, the second half was a near complete change of form for Sounders as they swarmed Sporting and took the lead in the 52nd minute and would double it in the 56th.

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First was a stroke of good fortune for the Rave Green as Harry Shipp’s cross from inside the box banked off of the back of Graham Zusi and over the fingertips of Tim Melia making it three straight matches that Seattle has been the beneficiary of an own goal.

Then minutes later a cross from Smith hit the arm of Opara inside the box prompting Toledo to award the penalty kick. Lodeiro stepped up to the spot and froze Melia with his shot to put Seattle up 3-1.

Now down two goals with more than 30 minutes to play, Kansas City began to fight their way back into the match, owning the possession stats for the rest of the match as Sounders began playing more defensively.

Seattle was looking like they would defend fairly comfortably for the rest of the match until an 81st minute red card to Chad Marshall was issued after going to VAR.

Even with the man advantage though Sporting failed to break down the stalwart Seattle defense and it would ultimately be the Sounders match to win as they eclipsed Kansas City’s 2012 winning streak of seven matches. They still have one match to go though before they’ll match the nine straight won by Sporting over two seasons, 2012-2013, and will have to do so on the road against Vancouver where a win or draw will clinch the Cascadia Cup for Seattle.

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In pictures: Atlanta United forced to settle for a point in 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders

Atlanta United couldn’t reward their record crowd of 72,243 with a win, as Seattle Sounders battled to earn a 1-1 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday night.

Atlanta will rue missed opportunities in what was a fiery contest between the two sides. The Sounders will be happy with the road point as they look to build some momentum ahead of their traditional late-season surge towards the playoffs.

It was the visitors who took the lead, right on the stroke of half-time. Harry Shipp’s shot was blocked by Franco Escobar but after going to Video Review, referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the penalty spot.

Nicolas Lodeiro converted and Seattle went into half-time 1-0 up. But it wouldn’t stay that way for very long. Atlanta United came out fighting in the second-half and got the equaliser in the 48th minute.

Josef Martinez was able to beat Kim Kee-Hee to Julian Gressel’s floated cross and steered his header over Stefan Frei. But that was the last time Atlanta were able to get the better of the Sounders goalkeeper.

Frei came up big to keep the score at 1-1 and earned his side a valuable point. Seattle had to play the final half an hour with ten men after Jordan McCrary was sent off, but Atlanta couldn’t capitalise.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Denise McCooey:

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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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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Sunday’s playoff draw between the Whitecaps and Sounders

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs have already reached the Conference Semifinal stage. It all kicked off on Sunday as Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders battled out at BC Place for what was a cagey first leg.

The game ended scoreless but that sets up a fascinating second leg at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. It was the first ever playoff matchup between the two rivals and lacked none of the usual intensity and aggression.

But both sides cancelled each other out over the 90 minutes. There was just one shot on target in total from either side. That’s the lowest tally ever recored in an MLS Playoff game.

Despite the lack of goals, there was reason for both sides to remain confident of reaching the Conference Final. Vancouver travel to Seattle on Thursday needing a goal to pile pressure on the hosts. The Sounders have home-field advantage to try and see them through.

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

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Gallery: Portland Timbers 3-1 LA Galaxy – Portland down the Galaxy as Jonathan Dos Santos makes MLS debut

Portland Timbers celebrated their first win at Providence Park in almost two months by beating LA Galaxy 3-1 on Sunday. Goals from Liam Ridgewell, Diego Valeri and Alvas Powell proved too much for a struggling Galaxy side.

Portland hadn’t won at home in three consecutive games before Sunday’s game. But they made sure they remain on track for the playoffs with a comfortable win in the end. The Timbers took the lead inside five minutes, with Ridgewell heading in from close range.

However, their lead lasted less than a minute. LA Galaxy hit them back straight from the restart, with Emmanuel Boateng racing through on goal and slotting past Jake Gleeson.

The Galaxy then looked on top. They piled pressure on Portland’s defence and thought they’d gone ahead when Gyasi Zardes tapped in from close range in the 11th minute. But referee Drew Fischer used the newly-implemented Video Review system to check the goal. After the review, the goal was chalked off and Zardes was booked for a handball in the lead up the goal.

Portland made the most of the decision and then re-took the lead themselves on 31 minutes. Jermaine Jones made a mess of an attempted interception, allowing Valeri a sight of goal. The playmaker still had a lot to from 25 yards, but he rifled a shot into the top corner, sending the hosts in 2-1 up at the break.

The Timbers made it 3-1 just eight minutes after the restart, with Alvas Powell blasting in from close range after a backheel assist from Fanendo Adi. LA couldn’t respond, even after sending new DP signing Jonathan Dos Santos onto the field in the 64th minute.

Dos Santos made his MLS debut for the Galaxy exactly two years after brother Giovani did so for the Galaxy. The two Mexican internationals will now hope to get the Galaxy out of their poor run of form. They are nine points outside the playoffs with 12 games to play. The game finished Portland Timbers 3-1 LA Galaxy.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Denise McCooey.

Portland Timbers 3-1 LA Galaxy – Match Gallery:

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s 1-0 win over Houston on Sunday

The Seattle Sounders made it three wins from four heading into the international break as they edged past the Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Sunday night, with former Dynamo man Will Bruin scoring the game’s only goal midway through the second half.

Seattle have now won three-straight home games by a 1-0 scoreline, and while they are struggling to convert chances, they are still picking up points when they need them most to keep hopes alive of retaining their MLS Cup title this year.

The Dynamo struggle to pick up anything on the road. They have just one point from seven road trips this season and will return from this weekend’s international break with a tough trip to LA Galaxy.

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

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s incredible comeback over New England

Seattle Sounders produced an incredible late comeback to rescue a point at home to New England Revolution on Saturday, scoring three goals in the final 15 minutes to stun the visitors.

The Revs started well and found themselves 2-0 up through 26 minutes and on course for a first away win of the season. They must have thought they were cruising when Juan Agudelo made it 3-0 nine minutes into the second half, but Seattle weren’t giving up.

Brian Schmetzer sent Harry Shipp on and Seattle started to dominate. Nicolas Lodeiro’s deflected goal on 75 minutes gave the home fans a glimmer of hope, before Will Bruin made it 3-2 ten minutes later.

Then, with just two minutes to go, Osvaldo Alonso headed in from close range to send CenturyLink Field into raptures. Both sides left with a point, but given the manner of the result, New England will have felt like they’d left Seattle with a defeat.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from LA Galaxy’s 2-1 win in Portland

LA Galaxy kept their strong run of form going as they beat Portland Timbers 2-1 at Providence Park on Saturday night to remain in the hunt for the Western Conference title.

The Galaxy raced into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes inside the first 11 minutes and instantly left Portland with it all to do.

The Timbers rallied throughout the remainder of the game, firing twice as many shots as LA over the course of the game but Zarek Valentin’s strike on the stroke of halftime wasn’t enough to prevent defeat for the hosts.

The Galaxy remain in third in the West, six points off Dallas at the top. Portland fell out of the playoff spots and into seventh with the defeat.

Check out photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s 2-0 win over San Jose

The Seattle Sounders picked up their third win from their last four games as they beat San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 on Saturday night in a highly entertaining game at CenturyLink Field.

Goals from Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris sealed the win for Seattle, who managed to keep a clean sheet against a San Jose side that hadn’t been shutout in 22-straight games.

The Quakes had a great chance to score when Chris Wondolowski stepped up to the penalty spot in the 84th minute with the score at 1-0, but the striker could only find the post.

Morris then secured the win five minutes later with his fourth goal in as many games. Seattle are eighth in the Western Conference, just two points behind San Jose who sit fifth.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle Sounders’ win against Columbus Crew

The Seattle Sounders continued their recovery with a third consecutive home win on Saturday night as Jordan Morris netted his third in as many games to seal a late 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Seattle bounced back from last week’s 3-1 loss in Colorado by keeping their second clean sheet of the season to take three huge points from Columbus on Saturday.

They had to weather the storm as the Crew dominated the play in the first half. But it was Jordan Morris’s predatory instincts in the closing minutes that shone through for the Sounders as they moved up to eighth in the Western Conference.

Columbus can’t seem to build any momentum and sit ninth in the East after eight games and have yet to win away from home.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

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