MLS Cup Playoffs – Knockout Round
Score: Sounders FC 3 vs. LA Galaxy 2
Goal-scorers: Clint Dempsey (5’), Sebastian Lletget (6’), Nelson Valdez (12’), Gyasi Zardes (22’), Erik Friberg (73’)
Site: CenturyLink Field
Man of the Match: In his first MLS postseason game, Andreas Ivanschitz caused havoc all night with dangerous crosses from set pieces. The Austrian midfielder assisted on Nelson Valdez’s goal in the 12th minute, curling in a cross from 35 yards out that took a bounce before finding a wide-open Valdez right in front of goal. Ivanschitz now has two assists to go along with one goal in his seven appearances for the Sounders.
Telling Stat: The Galaxy controlled the run of play in the first half, owning 54 percent of possession and taking 11 shots to Seattle’s three in the opening 45 minutes. But the Sounders picked up the pace in the second half, generating chance after chance while LA was stagnant in the attacking third. By the end of the game, the two teams were even on possession and shots on target.
Two of Seattle’s three goals were scored by a player acquired during the Summer Transfer Window, including the first MLS goal netted by Erik Friberg since he re-joined the Sounders in June. Friberg’s well-struck volley in the 73rd minute proved to be the winner for Seattle.
What You Missed: Midfielders Osvaldo Alonso (adductor strain) and Marco Pappa (hamstring strain) both missed the match due to injury. It marked the second consecutive year in which Alonso missed a postseason game against the Galaxy. Andy Rose stepped in for Alonso in the central midfield, marking his first start since Aug. 22.
So What: Sounders FC advances to the Western Conference Semifinals and will host either FC Dallas or Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday in the first leg, depending on who wins between the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City on Thursday. There will be a new champion in MLS this year, as the Galaxy failed to defend their title.