Professional Soccer

Sounders FC Downs Reigning MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy


SEATTLE, WASH. – Seattle Sounders FC opened its Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs account with a midweek Knockout Round clash against longtime nemesis LA Galaxy on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, with the Rave Green prevailing 3-2 to advance to the MLS Western Conference Semifinals. This is the first time Seattle has advanced past LA in postseason play, and including tonight’s match, Sounders FC and the Galaxy have met four times in postseason action over the past six seasons. Sounders FC improves to 16-13-6 all-time in the MLS Cup Playoffs, including a 5-2-3 record at CenturyLink Field. The Rave Green are unbeaten at home in seven of their past eight postseason matches, posting a 5-1-2 record at CenturyLink Field since the 2011 season. Additionally, tonight’s crowd of 39,537 set a new MLS attendance record for a Knockout Round match, surpassing its own previous record from the 2013 season (32,204 vs. Colorado Rapids).
In a thrilling first half that had no shortage of action, Sounders FC kicked things off with a Clint Dempsey goal in the fifth minute of play. LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts mishandled an Erik Friberg cross, leaving Dempsey free to slam the ball into the back of the Galaxy net inside the 18-yard-box, putting the home side up 1-0. Dempsey’s strike is officially the fastest postseason goal in Sounders FC history, surpassing Eddie Johnson’s tally from a 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs match against LA.
LA wasted little time in responding, as one minute later Sebastian Lletget received a Gyasi Zardes pass at the edge of Sounders FC’s area, finishing at Stefan Frei’s far post to level the score.
Valdez, making his first start since September 27 due to a calf strain, helped Seattle regain the lead in the 12th minute by redirecting a long-range Andreas Ivanschitz free-kick toward Ricketts’ far post.
LA leveled things one more before halftime in the 22nd minute of play, when Zardes struck a half-volley at the edge of Seattle’s 18-yard-box and fired a shot past Frei. However, it was another half-volley that decided the match, this time from the left foot of Friberg in the 73rd minute. The Swedish midfielder’s thunderous strike triggered celebrations throughout CenturyLink Field, as the goal proved to be enough to see Seattle advance past LA for in postseason action for the first time in club history.
Unbeaten in 10 straight matches across all competitions, Sounders FC has posted a win or draw in each fixture since August 22. The club finished the league campaign on an eight-match unbeaten stretch – the second-longest such streak in team history – in addition to a 2015-2016 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in September and Wednesday’s Knockout Stage win.
Sigi Schmid’s side now waits to learn its opponent for the Western Conference Semifinals. Depending on the result of Thursday’s Knockout Round match between Portland and Sporting Kansas City, Seattle can host either FC Dallas or Vancouver Whitecaps FC at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, November 1. Kickoff time and broadcast details will be announced following the conclusion of Thursday’s matches.  
Seattle Sounders FC 3 – LA Galaxy 2
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Frank Anderson
Fourth Official: Juan Guzman
Attendance: 39,537
Weather:  Cloudy and 55 degrees
SEA – Clint Dempsey 5′
LA – Sebastian Lletget (Gyasi Zardes, Giovani dos Santos) 6′
SEA – Nelson Valdez (Andreas Ivanschitz) 12′
LA – Gyasi Zardes (Juninho) 22′
SEA – Erik Friberg 73′
LA – Omar Gonzalez (caution) 44′
LA -Baggio Husidic (caution) 77′
SEA – Stefan Frei (caution) 90’+3′
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans – captain, Chad Marshall, Leo Gonzalez (Zach Scott 36′); Nelson Valdez (Chad Barrett 75′), Andy Rose, Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz (Cristian Roldan 88′); Clint Dempsey
Substitutes not used: Troy Perkins, Oniel Fisher, Lamar Neagle, Gonzalo Pineda
Total shots: 9 (Valdez/Dempsey, 3)
Shots on goal: 5 (Dempsey, 2)
Fouls: 9 (Ivanschitz, 3)
Offside: 3 (Dempsey, 2)
Corner-kicks: 5 (Ivanschitz, 5)
Saves: 3 (Frei, 3)
LA Galaxy – Donovan Ricketts; AJ DeLaGarza (Alan Gordan 83′), Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Robbie Rogers; Gyasi Zardes, Juninho, Steven Gerrard, Sebastian Lletget (Baggio Husidic 76′); Robbie Keane – captain, Giovani dos Santos

Substitutes not used:  Brian Rowe, Edson Buddle, Dan Gargan, David Romney, Mike Vayryen

Total shots: 15 (Lletget, 4)
Shots on goal: 5 (Zardes, 2)
Fouls: 10 (Leonardo, 3)
Offside: 5 (Keane, 3)
Corner-kicks: 6 (dos Santos, 6)
Saves: 2 (Ricketts, 2)

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