Sounders FC downs reigning MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy in Knockout Round of Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs

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. 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.

Nelson Valdez, making his first start since September 27 due to a calf strain, helped Seattle regain the lead in the 12thminute 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.  


MATCH SUMMARY

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

SCORING SUMMARY

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'

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

LA - Omar Gonzalez (caution) 44'
LA -Baggio Husidic (caution) 77'
SEA - Stefan Frei (caution) 90'+3'

LINEUPS & STATS

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)

MATCH NOTES 

  • Seattle Sounders FC advances past the LA Galaxy in the postseason for the first time in club history. Including tonight's Knockout Round game, the two sides have met four times in postseason play over the past six seasons. Sounders FC has won three of the past four postseason contests between the two sides. 
  • Sounders FC improves to 5-2-3 record at CenturyLink Field in MLS Cup Playoffs action
  • 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.
  • In the fifth minute, Clint Dempsey scored the earliest goal in a postseason match in club history, while Nelson Valdez matched the previous record (Eddie Johnson, 11/18/2012 vs. LA Galaxy) with a scoring tally in the 12th minute. It is also the second match in a row Dempsey has scored in the fifth minute of the match.
  • The match featured the two sides who are tied for the third longest-postseason streak in MLS history, with each club qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs every year since 2009.
  • After posting an 11-4-2 record at home during the regular season, the club improved to 14-4-2 at CenturyLink Field across all competitions in 2015. Since August 16, Sounders FC is unbeaten in eight consecutive matches at CenturyLink Field across all competitions, winning seven and drawing one.
  • Sounders FC improved to 6-0-0 all-time in postseason play when scoring the first goal. During the regular season, the club was 13-2-1. Wednesday's three goals sets a new-single game record for most goals in a postseason match in club history.
  • With a crowd of 39,537, Sounders FC 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).
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