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Lagerwey staying in Seattle after GM vote

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Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey will stay in his position for four more years after the club’s alliance members voted to keep him in the role.

The Sounders’ have an Alliance Council that can vote its general manager in or out of the job after a set period of time in the position.

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Lagerwey, the ex-Real Salt Lake executive, has been in his role as Seattle’s GM since 2015, and led the team to two MLS Cup Finals, winning one.

The club demands 40 percent of alliance members to vote in order for the decision to be valid and only 37.2 percent did so, but the 87.2 percent of voters in favor or retention sent “a clear message” of approval.

The 45-year-old former MLS goalkeeper certainly had the right things to say in discussing his club’s disappointing end to the season. Seattle went on another late season red-hot run, but fell to its rivals in the playoffs.

“You can’t lose to Portland and call the season a success,” Lagerwey said. “You can’t be the only favorite to be knocked out and call it a success. Performance in the playoffs matters.”

Sure, but Lagerwey was able to pull the strings to fix the season, adding Raul Ruidiaz after forward Jordan Morris was lost for the season. He’s a future Soccer Hall of Famer, and Seattle is right to largely acknowledge that with his vote.

Portland outlasts Seattle in gripping playoff second leg

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Portland and Seattle staged a second leg befitting of their rivalry, as the Timbers knocked their rivals out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a gripping win in Seattle early Friday.

A chaotic ending put the match in extra time, where Dairon Asprilla sent a bullet header into the back of the goal off a Diego Valeri cross to make it 4-3 on aggregate only to see a penalty make it 4-4 four minutes later.

Will Bruin hit the post with Seattle’s second penalty attempt and Jeff Attinella stopped Osvaldo Alonso on the next Seattle attempt. Stefan Frei stopped Liam Ridgewell‘s winning bid, but could only get a hand on Asprilla’s winning hit.

The triumph sets Portland up for a meeting with either Real Salt Lake or Sporting KC in the Western final.

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The Sounders entered the match down 2-1 but holding an away goal. That meant 1-0 would be enough for them to get into the conference finals, and an awful Portland mistake put them in the catbird seat.

Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella bungled a cross and left it on the doorstep for Raul Ruidiaz, who made it 2-2 on aggregate in the 68th minute. Seattle, as it stood, was headed back to the Western finals.

Enter Sebastian Blanco.

The Argentine took a lay-off from Dairon Asprilla and hit a low ball that caught Stefan Frei in a hard place.

Portland was back in front, though the Timbers were denied a bid to close the match out via Frei’s in-tight denial of Lucas Melano.

Stoppage time made it 2-1 to Seattle, when Ruidiaz unleashed this beauty following a weak headed clearing attempt from Blanco.

The match went to extra time, and Valeri’s long cross was met at the back post by the leaping Asprilla.

The score line stayed the same for less than four minutes, as a Blanco handball sent Lodeiro to the spot and the Sounders star did not miss his chance to make it 4-4.

Ruidiaz had a goal pulled back for a handball as the match continued to deliver drama en route to kicks.

Some Timbers players celebrated after extra time, apparently thinking they advanced via away goals (away goals in extra time are no longer a tiebreaker). That’s… problematic.

Portland topples Seattle 2-1 in first playoff leg

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The Seattle Sounders knew their 2-seed meant nothing in a Cascadia matchup between two heated rivals. The Sounders took an early lead but squandered that not long after and slumped to a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their Major League Soccer playoff matchup.

Still, the early strike could prove valuable as the Sounders head home with an away goal as Christian Roldan somehow squirted a cross through the legs of Bill Tuiloma just 10 minutes in and found Raul Ruidiaz who roofed it with the side of his foot at the near post.

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That proved valuable as the Sounders struggled to contain Portland on the counter, which would prove fruitful for the hosts seven minutes later. On the run, Diego Valeri threaded in Jeremy Ebobisse who dinked it over a charging Stefan Frei. With the scoreline all tied up, Seattle continued to control possession, but coughed it up on the break again on the half-hour mark.

Valeri somehow found a gap straight down the heart of the Seattle defense and while his run was finally stopped by Chad Marshall at the penalty spot, it trickled to Sebastian Blanco who stepped past a defender onto his left foot and awkwardly skidded the ball across the face and inside the far post.

There was little of note in the second half, as Portland locked things down. Seattle maintained 56% possession throughout the match and out-passed Portland 531-425, but could only muster nine shots, three on target. The Sounders now head back home with a valuable away goal but still with work to do. In their only meeting at CenturyLink Field during the regular season, Portland took home a 3-2 win on a 74th minute Larrys Mabiala goal.

MLS – West: SKC finish 1st; Sounders sneak into 2nd; Galaxy crash out (video)

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While the Eastern Conference was largely settled heading into the final day of the regular season, the Western Conference was anything but.

[ EAST: Red Bulls snatch Shield; Crew SC grab last spot (video) ]

Spots 1-6 were up for grabs, and four teams were mathematically alive in the race for first place and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Things started wildly, and only got more wild…

First-place race: FC Dallas take an early lead on Colorado Rapids, pushing themselves into second place for the time being.

https://twitter.com/MLS/status/1056653716420317184

Sixth-place race: LA Galaxy score twice in 10 minutes — both courtesy of Ola Kamara — to move into sixth place, two points ahead of Real Salt Lake.

First-place race: First-place Sporting KC lead second- (now fourth-) place Los Angeles FC, via Roger Espinoza‘s strike from 25 yards out.

Sixth-place race: The Galaxy wouldn’t, would they? They couldn’t, could they?

First-place race: Carlos Vela pulls LAFC level in KC. The home side would still finish top of the West after a draw.

Second-place race: Danny Hoesen puts San Jose Earthquakes ahead against the run of play, putting Seattle Sounders in a bit of trouble.

First-place race: 22-year-old Daniel Salloi restores the lead for Sporting KC, who have been down a man since Seth Sinovic’s handball which led to the penalty kick.

Sixth-place race: Mauro Manotas makes it 2-2 at StubHub Center, and it’s happening. It’s really happening.

Second-place race: Raul Ruidiaz has proven to be worth his weight in gold since signing this summer, and his late equalizer sends Seattle second.

Sixth-place race: There could be no more fitting end to the Galaxy’s season. What a stunningly uncontrollable disaster.

Second-place race: Dallas were unable to grab a second in Colorado and left the door wide open for Seattle.

Second-place race: Colorado get a second shortly thereafter, and Dallas tumble from second, to third, to fourth on the final day.

Second-place race: Ruidiaz does it again and locks up second place for Seattle.

An infuriating attempt at the 2018 MLS Best XI

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It occurs to me that projecting an MLS Best XI for this year is tougher than its been in some time.

In truth, it’s probably been growing in that manner on an annual basis. Shoot, look at last year’s post on the topic.

It’s especially difficult to narrow down your attackers if you want an XI to be representative of anything close to a unit you’d place on field.

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Consider that the league has three 20-goal scorers, none who could be considered anything close to a midfielder, and six players with double digits goals and assists.

Let’s start with the necessities.

Forwards: The XI could not look remotely rational without Josef Martinez’s 30-goal record season, and there’s on debate that Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 22 goals in 26 matches rates.

So there’s two forwards, which means you need to exclude all but one of the following players:

  • Wayne Rooney — 12 goals, six assists, 19 matches
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips — 20 goals, 7 assists, 31 matches
  • Carlos Vela — 13 goals, 10 assists, 27 matches

And, by the way, Adama Diomande has 12 goals in 17 matches and David Villa 13 in 22. Not bad.

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron, Ignacio Piatti, and Nicolas Lodeiro have had out of this world campaigns, as has Alphonso Davies. Both Davies and Piatti are unlikely to make the playoffs, and should that matter? Orlando’s Yoshi Yotun and Mohamed El-Munir (a defender) have been amongst the best at their spots, but their team was terrible.

Borek Dockal, Luciano Acosta, Lodeiro, and NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez have 15 assists or more. Sebastian Giovinco and Darwin Quintero are just off the pace despite playing 27 and 26 games on bad teams.

Dockal is averaging an assist in two of three matches this season, and Piatti.

Piatti!

Defenders: This one’s difficult because you need at least three and this league is like the Dutch Eredivisie on steroids (Even that league only had one 20-goal scorer last season).

There’s a bit of cheating in including Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi, the influential right back who also plays advanced at times and also guarantees us an SKC man on the roster. And Matt Besler is a better positional fit, but Zusi feels more necessary.

It feels like either Aaron Long or Tim Parker should represent the Red Bulls, and Walker Zimmerman has reclaimed his elite form with LAFC.

Goalkeepers: Tim Melia and Luis Robles both pace the league in clean sheets with 13, while Andre Blake of Philadelphia and Evan Bush have thrived on… less impressive units. Bush has faced 181 shots, more than all but one goalkeeper, and has made a league-high 130 saves in keeping Montreal alive.

Conclusion: Look, we’re going to have to try and outscore the other team now, aren’t we? And we’re going to lose. But it’s going to be fun.

I’ve got it down to 10 players, only repeating two teams (Red Bulls and Atlanta).

There’s no one from Dallas, who deserves a man, nor NYCFC. Plus  we’ve got two players who could miss the playoffs in Zlatan and Piatti, but it’s crazy not to include them. It just is.

So who gets our 11th slot? A stable center mid? Vela to make it a 3-4-3 and a third team with two slots?

Robles (RBNY)

Zusi (SKC) — Zimmerman (LAFC) — Long (RBNY)

Almiron (ATL) — Piatti (MTL) — Dockal (PHI) — Lodeiro (SEA)

Vela (LAFC) —  Ibrahimovic (LAG) — Martinez (ATL)