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Expansion LAFC sells out of season tickets at new stadium

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The expansion Los Angeles Football Club has sold out of season-ticket packages for its inaugural season in its new downtown stadium.

LAFC announced the sellout of 17,500 full-season memberships Wednesday, four days before the team makes its MLS regular-season debut Sunday at Seattle.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The franchise’s $350 million Banc of California Stadium is still being completed ahead of LAFC’s home debut on April 29, but the team has already sold as many season tickets as it will allow in the 22,000-seat arena.

Fans can still buy single-game tickets in the North End supporters’ section and other spots around the field.

LAFC is MLS’ 23rd franchise. The club is attracting significant attention throughout Los Angeles’ revitalized downtown, where it is building the city’s first new open-air stadium in more than 30 years.

Manchester United to hit five U.S. cities this summer

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Manchester United announced a five-city American tour this summer, as Jose Mourinho will bring the Red Devils ahead of a hopeful return to the UEFA Champions League.

Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Santa Clara and Washington are the cities in the press release, leaving one more to be announced. Utah will be a first for United.

[ MORE: Should USMNT injuries be a worry? ]

United was whispered to be involved in an U.S. based Manchester Derby, so one of those markets could be in for a historic match. The MLS All Star Game is set for Aug. 2 in Chicago, and could be an option for United if it fails to qualify for the Community Shield (which is extremely, extremely unlikely).

The Red Devils didn’t hit our shores last summer after spending July of 2014 and 2015 in the States. In 2014, they faced Roma, LA Galaxy, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Liverpool. The following year: Club America, PSG, San Jose Earthquakes, Barcelona.

Galaxy’s Gerrard meets the media: “Very impressed with the standard” of MLS

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Not too long after Frank Lampard spoke to New York City FC’s site, it was Steven Gerrard’s turn to face the cameras as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Though he’ll still be watching every Liverpool match, Gerrard spoke as a determined man ready to make his mark with the reigning MLS champions. Though he, like Lampard, slipped into calling it ‘the MLS’, it was a solid if not inspiring press conference.

[ MORE: Full 2015 Gold Cup coverage ]

I’m not a Liverpool supporter, but you get the feeling it’s impossible not to be motivated when Steven Gerrard is your teammate. Now toss in Robbie Keane.

Here are some of his comments, via Sky Sports:

On following the footsteps of David Beckham and Landon Donovan: “I think it is very exciting to be a member of the LA Galaxy. You mentioned two names there, David Beckham and Landon Donovan, who have contributed terrifically well for this football club. And if I could follow in their football steps, I will be very, very happy. David is a hero of mine and someone I was lucky to play with. He is a fantastic guy and a wonderful footballer. And he was certainly someone I leaned on for advice and asked a few questions of before I decided to come here.”

On being impressed by his first week in MLS: “I’m coming into a very good team and I’m coming into the champions. Whatever my boss asks of me I will do. The MLS has grown and improved over the years, and the teams have also got stronger and better over the years. I have been very impressed with the standard of training so far and I am certainly looking forward to playing against the other teams.”

On Liverpool: “I will be watching every Liverpool game while i am here. I have spoken to Brendan [Rodgers] and some of the staff, who have wished me good luck and i will go and see some games in the winter.”

What we learned from LA Galaxy’s one-goal win over Real Salt Lake

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  • Both teams wanted more

The final score — a 1-0 home win, somewhat common in two-legged affairs — tells you nothing about how the match unfolded. Los Angeles looked good for a goal in the first half but were pushed to halftime scoreless, their forays wide-to-in inside the penalty area continually (if often desperately) rebuked. Even after breaking through near the start of the second half, LA continued to threaten, seemingly ready to spend the match’s final 40 minutes probing for an all-important second goal.

But then RSL adjusted, almost as if the whole plan was to wait 60 minutes before trying to steal one late. The introductions of Sebastian Velasquez and Robbie Findley injected some fresh, quick feet, with Devon Sandoval coming on to try and push in a surprise equalizer.

With RSL opening up in pursuit of that goal, they looked destined to give up a second, but LA could never put the pieces together on one of their numerous counterattacks. The game may have ended 1-0, but that wasn’t the teams’ intention.

[MORE: Franklin blast all that separates LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake after leg one]

  • LA can silence RSL’s biggest stars

Where was Álvaro Saborío. Isolated. Abandoned up top. He may have been good for 12 goals in 16 appearances, but come the 79th minute, he was good for a place on the bench, the Costa Rican international leaving before seriously testing Jaime Penedo.

RSL’s playmaker wasn’t anymore effective. Javi Morales gave the ball away four times, a game high. He was dispossessed another four times, also tied for the night’s high mark. His 77 passes were second to know Kyle Beckerman, but they lacked the influence of a normal Javier Morales performance.

Thursday in Utah, RSL will expect more from their two biggest threats. Whether that’s happens because better performances, a switch in formation, or a change in approach, Jason Kreis will likely need more from his danger-men.

  • Real Salt Lake’s not married to their 4-4-2

Or, if they are married to their trademark formation, it’s an open relationship. A handful of times this season, RSL deployed a 4-3-3, using their new-found forward depth to shake things up midseason. Tonight — on the road, leg one, against the powerful defending champions — Kreis utilized another source of depth, putting Yordany Alvarez into deep midfield along side Kyle Beckerman.

The result was a 4-2-3-1 formation, but the choice was a reflection of the RSL boss’s growing confidence in the Cuban destroyer.  Regardless, it’s unclear how effective it was. That LA’s counterattack was a non-factor until Alvarez gave way for Robbie Findley hints the switch helped contain the Galaxy’s biggest threat, but where were the midfielders on the goal? Collapsed into the area, not familiar with new setup’s roles, abandoning one of the more dangerous spots on the field.

You’d assume Kreis will be more aggressive at home. Joao Plata may also be healthy. There’ll be reasons to go back to the 4-3-1-2, but it was interesting to see RSL break out a double pivot. The two-man shield may have helped on Sunday.

  • Omar Gonzalez demands a lot of attention

When was the last time you saw two players marking one target on set pieces? It happened on Sunday. Omar Gonzalez is such a threat, Kreis asked Chris Schuler and Chris Wingert to mark him.

It was amazing; the ultimate side of respect; a concession that whatever everybody else had been trying ignored the obvious solution: Gonzalez is just too good . Swallow your pride and put a second man on him.

That one of the markers with the 6’4″ Schuler speaks to the amount of respect Kreis has for Gonzalez’s threat. Most managers would just shrug and say something like ‘we just have to win that battle,’ not wanting to sacrifice a player who could be deployed elsewhere. Kreis did the smart thing. He did what it took to stop Omar Gonzalez.

  • Galaxy counter attack may not be stoppable, but was containable

Kreis took a big risk sacrificing Alvarez near the hour mark, bringing on Robbie Findley, and pursuing an equalizer. Over the next half hour, LA seemed to have counter attack after counter attack – the type of breakouts we saw the Galaxy ride through the last two postseasons.

But credit, huge credit to not only the defenders but Kreis, who put faith in his back two rather than just accepting the one-goal deficit. Near full-time, Devon Sandoval nearly found an equalizer, Todd Dunivant coming up big to keep the big rookie for heading in a Luis Gil cross. Had that gone in, Kreis’ faith would have been rewarded.

Yes, they gave up some opportunities in transition, but to see the coordination between Borchers and Schuler, you can’t help but think that’d been a point of emphasis in training. Kreis may have bet on his defense holding up.

It’s too much to say RSL had the right approach to LA’s counter, because there were a number of times the Galaxy seemed one split second, go either way soccer moment from breaking through. But the scoreboard tells the story. RSL did contain LA’s counter attack, even if they didn’t exactly stop them.

Seattle ends losing streak in LA draw, but not without controversy

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It was Seattle’s best performance since their slide began on Oct. 5, but it wasn’t enough to get them full points or jump Los Angeles for third in the West. After Sunday’s season-ending 1-1 draw with the Galaxy, the Sounders stay fourth in their conference, relegating them to a mid-week playoff game with Colorado for the right to join the West’s semifinalists.

Seattle got on the board early thanks to LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo’s mistake, though you may hear it referred to as Clint Dempsey’s first Seattle goal. Both descriptions are correct, but if the Panamanian international hadn’t grossly misjudged a Lamar Neagle cross, the U.S. captain wouldn’t have been given an empty net to open his Cascadia account. After 30 minutes, Dempsey finished from just inside the six-yard box to put Seattle up, 1-0.

They’d take that lead into halftime, though by all indications, they were lucky to do so. That’s because an Omar Gonzalez header late in the half failed to get LA on the board, even though replays clearly showed the ball had crossed the line. From 12 yards out, Gonzalez headed down toward the middle of Michael Gspurning goal, with Osvaldo Alonso attempting to clear the would be equalizer. The shot, however, bounced one foot inside the Seattle goal before the Sounder midfielder cleared it. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the lineman saw things differently and kept the score at 1-0.

The second half resumed where the first had left off, with Seattle largely controlling possession while the teams shared shots on goal. As the half bled on, Los Angeles began to assume more control as they pursued an equalizing goal. By the 75 minute mark, the Galaxy were full control of the match, a control Seattle was complicit in as they tried to preserve their lead.

That gave Robbie Keane’s equalizer the feeling of being preordained. With Seattle unable to do anything significant going forward — seemingly more and more willing to try and get the game to full time — it was only a matter of time before a goal like Keane’s. The Irish international volleyed an attempted clearance into the turf from 18 yards out, the ball hitting just inside the Seattle are before flying into Gspurning’s right side netting. Ending the pressure that’d built since halftime, LA pulled even with Seattle, 1-1.

Seattle leveled play over the match’s final quarter hour, earning a series of corner kicks that stressed Los Angeles over the match’s final moments, but Penedo was never seriously threatened before the match’s final whistle. Having recoiled to preserve their lead, Seattle gave back their chance to avoid the playoff’s first round, relegating themselves to a rematch with the Colorado team that started all of Seattle’s troubles.

Those troubles include a seven–match winless run they’ll carry into the playoffs, though Seattle’s silver-lining sees their four-match losing streak come to an end. Dempsey got his first goal, Michael Gspurning performed well in his return – there are a number of seasons to think this a step forward. Unfortunately, that step wasn’t enough to avoid a fourth place finish.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, can look at this as a point well won, particularly given the misfortunate on Gonzalez’s non-goal. But without the services of Juninho, Todd Dunivant, and A.J. DeLaGaza (still), the Galaxy still got a resultson the road, one that will ensure their potential run to a third-straight MLS Cup will be one match shorter than last year’s.