Captain Clint fires Seattle Sounders to US Open Cup crown in 3-1 extra time win over Philadelphia

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Clint Dempsey – who else – provided the game-winner with 18 minutes to go in extra time as Seattle Sounders won an exciting back-and-forth affair at PPL Park by a 3-1 score over a creative yet ultimately wasteful Philadelphia Union.

It’s a fitting ending to the affair as Dempsey raised his first-ever club trophy and Seattle’s fourth US Open Cup in the last six years.  USMNT teammate Maurice Edu put Philadelphia up midway through the first half in front of the home fans, but Seattle took their chances better from there.

Chad Barrett leveled just after halftime, and despite plenty of action, it took until the beginning of added time before we saw another score, as Dempsey grabbed the lead. Obafemi Martins scored late in extra time to put the game away for Seattle.

Set pieces resonated on both goals in regulation. Philly captain Edu put the Union one-up halfway through the first 45 as he headed a free kick powerfully into the back of the net.

The Sounders struggled to maintain consistent pressure, and despite an early chance from Clint Dempsey in the opening 10 minutes that skied over the bar, they found consistent chances few and far between.

Things burst to life for both sides after the restart, with Seattle taking advantage just two minutes since halftime.  Chad Barrett picked up the equalizer as a corner kick deflected high into the air, and as players waited for it to come down, Barrett picked up the ping-ponging ball and nodded it home from point blank range.

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Philadelphia captain Maurice Edu put the home side up early, but they failed to convert multiple chances the rest of the way in the loss.

Following Barrett’s equalizer, the game exploded open, but neither team could convert numerous chances into a goal as the second half waned on.

Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath made a brilliant save to keep the score at 1-1 with 20 minutes to go, as Brad Evans blasted on net from a tight angle, and just moments later on the other end DeAndre Yedlin had to sprint back a long way to make a last-ditch tackle on Cristian Maidana on the break.

Both teams were searching for a goal with bright attacking prowess, and Dempsey came agonizingly close but he dragged just wide of an open net after barely reaching a cross by Marco Pappa. The chance did, however, signal Seattle regaining the momentum just as they had out of the break.

Vincent Nogueira nearly gave Philadelphia an emphatic win in stoppage time, but he ripped his shot off the post, and it nearly went in for an own goal after the rebound deflected back off a pair of Sounders defenders.  Both Evans and Zach Scott limped their way through stoppage time with Seattle owning just one substitution left. Essentially 11 on 9, the visitors hung on for dear life as stoppage time ticked by.

We went to extra time, and the fireworks continued. Pappa found substitute Obafemi Martins just a minute in, but MacMath expertly denied the MVP candidate.  Seattle then used its last substitute on a limping Evans.

As both teams poked and prodded with dangerous attacks, Seattle finally hit on the counter. Martins combined with Dempsey, and as Martins slotted his teammate through, the USMNT captain provided the dagger to PPL Park’s heart.

Pappa nearly put the game away but he thundered the crossbar as the first half of extra time came to a close.  Philadelphia didn’t go down without a fight, but Martins closed up shop on the counter as he burst past Ray Gaddis and slotted easily past MacMath.

Seattle defeated four Major League Soccer teams on their way to victory, downing the likes of San Jose, Portland, and Chicago along with Philadelphia.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”