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.
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.
Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy – Games between these two Western Conference giants have produced some special moments over the years. Sunday night’s clash was no different. It’s not an official MLS rivalry. But it’s become as heated as some of the league’s established derby games.
The Galaxy arrived at CenturyLink Field desperate for a result after what has been a really tough year for the club. But they showed a real sense of togetherness and fought well against a Sounders side that led the West heading into the weekend.
LA were rewarded for their play when Gyasi Zardes headed them in front inside the first 25 minutes. He connected with Romain Alessandrini’s cross and the Galaxy looked good for their lead. They created several more chances but ultimately couldn’t add to their tally.
As is so often the case with the Sounders, they made their opponents pay for failing to put the game to bed. Substitute Lamar Neagle latched onto the end of Roman Torres’ cross to fire a deflected shot past Brian Rowe and into the back of the net in the 85th minute. It was Neagle’s first goal for the club since returning from DC United last month .
There was still time for more drama though. Roman Torres saw red after being adjudged to have fouled Jermaine Jones on the edge of the Sounders penalty area. LA failed to convert the free-kick and the game ended 1-1. The result leaves Seattle behind Portland at the top of the West. LA Galaxy are ten points outside the playoffs down in ninth.
Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy – Exclusive photos courtesy of MLSGB photographers Paul Kahl and Denise McCooey:
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:
Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC – Things just got very interesting in the West. Saturday’s night’s result saw the Sounders move level on 37 points with SKC at the summit of the Western Conference. Houston Dynamo’s win then saw them also move onto 37 points, leaving a three-way battle for top spot.
Seattle knew they needed to beat Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. And Clint Dempsey was the man to deliver the goods, with the attacker netting his 50th Sounders goal to settle the game.
Dempsey’s first-half header proved to be enough to hand SKC their first defeat in 10 MLS outings. Both sides are now level on 37 points with 10 games to go.
Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Paul Kahl.
Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC: Match Photos
The Seattle Sounders kept their strong run of form going with a convincing 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday. The Sounders were missing all three Designated Players and Jordan Morris too. But that didn’t stop them as they proved too good for the Quakes at CenturyLink Field.
The game was goalless at halftime but the Sounders simply blew San Jose away in the second half. Cristian Roldan opened the scoring in the 54th minute. Then, two minutes later made it 2-0. Seattle made sure of the result in the 65th minute when Kelvin Leerdam tapped in at the back post from a Joevin Jones corner.
Sunday night’s game marked Leerdam’s first MLS start since moving to Seattle at the start of the month. He impressed with a goal and assist. While Joevin Jones again proved how dangerous he is, so the Sounders now have two attacking full-backs to hurt teams with.
The win means Seattle have now picked up three-straight victories and are up to fifth in the West. However, San Jose have suffered three consecutive losses and are not outside the playoff spots. Their hopes of a top-six finish seem to be taking knock after knock at the moment.
Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Paul Kahl and Denise McCooey.
Portland Timbers travelled to Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps with 12 first-team players missing. They needed something special to take anything from the game. And they got just that, as they picked up a surprise 2-1 win at BC Place.
Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse marked his first MLS start with a goal and an assist in a eye-catching display. It took him just 14 minutes to get the Timbers off the mark as he converted a Dairon Asprilla cross.
Vancouver rallied though and got their reward on the stroke of halftime. Andrew Jacobson tapped in at the back post following a flick-on by Tim Parker. The home side went into the break in high spirits and would have expected to go on and win the game. But Portland had other plans.
The Timbers came out fast in the second half and went 2-1 up in the 49th minute as Sebastian Blanco fired in past David Ousted. Despite the rapid start to the second half, there would be no more goals as Vancouver struggled to get past Jake Gleeson in the Portland goal.
The result ended a six-game winless run for the Timbers. While Vancouver saw their two-game win streak ended to their Cascadia rivals. Portland are now three points clear of the Whitecaps in the Western Conference but have played three games more.
Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Chris Kachanoski, John May and Hazel May.
Vancouver Whitecaps go into the MLS Gold Cup break in high spirits after pulling off a dramatic late win over New York City FC on Wednesday night.
Both sides gave up leads in an entertaining game that could have really gone either way. But the hosts prevailed, with Reyna’s introduction proving crucial in the end.
The Whitecaps wasted no time in taking the lead as they scored after just three minutes, with Fredy Montero slotting in before Maxine Chanot equalised for NYCFC half an hour later. The visitors then took the lead before halftime after David Villa cooly converted from the spot.
Vancouver fans would have been forgiven for fearing the worst at the interval. But their players responded well during the second half. Jordan Harvey volleyed them level with a perfectly taking shot at the back post on 54 minutes, before Yordy Reyna entered the game ten minutes later.
Reyna’s entrance proved a masterstroke. Playing at BC Place for the first time since joining Vancouver, Reyna changed the game with his pace and energy. And scored the all-important winner three minutes from time, heading in past Eirik Johansen in the New York City goal.
Check out exclusive photos from Wednesday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers John May and Hazel May.
Seattle Sounders were seconds away from securing a fourth-straight MLS win at home by a 1-0 scoreline on Wednesday night. But then Scott Sutter headed in to earn Orlando a dramatic late point at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle will be devastated to not have taken all three points after standing firm for so long defensively, while carving out numerous openings themselves, with Joe Bendik putting in a great shift for Orlando.
Will Bruin opened the scoring in the 19th minute as fired a low and accurate drive into the bottom-left corner. But the visitors managed to stay in the game and waited for that one moment, which came in stoppage time as Kaka stepped up and delivered a dangerous cross from a free-kick, with Scott Sutter heading in to score his first MLS goal at a crucial time.
The result leaves Seattle outside the playoffs in the West, while Orlando sit in fourth in the East, six points off Toronto FC at the top of the standings.
Check out exclusive photos from Wednesday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.
Vancouver Whitecaps battled back to earn a 1-1 draw at home to FC Dallas on Saturday, thanks to Cristian Techera’s free-kick 15 minutes from time, cancelling out Maximiliano Urruti’s opener earlier in the second-half.
The Whitecaps have now gone back-to-back games without defeat for only the second time this season and will hope to keep building momentum when they travel to Minnesota this weekend.
Carl Robinson’s men are in fifth place in the West after the weekend’s result, four behind Dallas in fourth, who have also played one game more than the Canadian outfit.
Dallas have been wobbling over the past couple of months and have only won one of their last seven games, with that coming two weeks ago at home to RSL.
They have a Friday-night clash with Texas rivals Houston up next and will be hoping to stamp their authority down to stay in touch with the leaders at the top of the West.
Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers John May, Hazel May and Chris Kachanoski.