Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders

Drilling down on: at Seattle Sounders 3, Portland Timbers 0


SEATTLE, Wash. — The second largest stand alone crowd in Major League Soccer history saw the Seattle Sounders end their three-match winless run, getting goals from Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero en route to a 3-0 Cascadia Cup victory over the Portland Timbers.

Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson celebrated his called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team with the night’s best goal, a half-volley of a Brad Evans cross flying inside Donovan Ricketts’ left post for Seattle’s second goal. It was Johnson’s team-leading 14th goal of the season, one short of a career high. Johnson played necessary parts in Seattle’s first and third goals, playing the pass back to Osvaldo Alonso ahead of the cross on the first, flicking a header across the Portland’s penalty area on the third. Just as they have all year, Johnson’s contributions went beyond the goal column.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Seattle provided 66,452 reasons why it is the best market in Major League Soccer, drawing the largest crowd in CenturyLink’s MLS history.
  • Prior to the game, the Emerald City Supporters unveiled a a tifo extending from field level to above the scoreboard sitting on top the the south end’s first level. The image: A Godfather-esque Sigi Schmid playing poker with Gavin Wilkinson, his chips in the middle as he reveals a royal flush. The title: Tonight we’re all in.
  • Schmid didn’t get a royal flush from his players, but he didn’t need it. Thanks to a late change to their normal starting lineup, Portland’s back line was a mess. If this was a poker game, the Timbers were playing rags.
  • As for the actual match, it took a while for the action to pick up, perhaps a biproduct of the atmosphere. For 25 minutes the teams were indistinguishable from each other: No good shots, no chances, just caginess.
  • That changed when Johnson found Adam Johansson streaking unmarked down the right flank. His cross targeted Fredy Montero but never found him. Instead, Futty Danso redirected the ball behind Donovan Ricketts, opening the scoring for Seattle.
  • It was the start of a terrible night for Danso, a late addition to the starting lineup after Hayner Mosquerawas scratched:
    • On the second goal (Johnson’s), Danso’s decision to come off his line left David Horst to chose between marking Johnson and Christian Tiffert. Horst chose poorly
    • On the final goal, Danso lost the aerial battle on a long throw from Brad Evans, allowing Johnson to flick a ball across Portland’s penalty area. The chaos that followed culminating in a goal when Montero blocked a Jack Jewsbury clearance into Ricketts’ net.
  • For Montero, it was his 13th goal of the season, a new career high. He also came close to scoring in the first half, a curling shot from 18 yards out pushed onto the far post.
  • It was all part of a relative offensive explosion from the Sounders. The team had only scored two goals in their last three games and were coming off being shut out last week in Vancouver.
  • A big part of the that turn around were the performances of Evans and Tiffert:
    • Evans’ contributions were easy to overlook, but his versatility proved invaluable. Not only did he fill the spaces in midfield vacated by Tiffert and Mauro Rosales, he also stepped into central defense when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke, in separate collisions with Bright Dike, required stitches.
    • Tiffert had a 180-degree turnaround from last week. In Vancouver, he was looked lifeless and worn down. Neither of those qualities were evident on Sunday. The midfielder’s little touches that secured possession on second balls helped Seattle control the match, keeping Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chará from having an impact.
  • The result gives Seattle a one point lead in the Cascadia Cup standings, but thanks to their advantage in goal difference, Portland needs a win in their upcoming trip to Vancouver to claim the trophy. Should they fail to do so, the Timbers will have wasted three chances to secure the Cup.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans celebrates after Sounders' Nelson Haedo Valdez scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City in the second half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
Leave a comment

The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.