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LA Galaxy handles Seattle Sounders 3-0 to close playoff gap

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There is plenty more work to be done for the LA Galaxy to complete the unlikely push for a playoff spot, but they passed a major hurdle with a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night at the StubHub Center.

Seattle suffered a 60-minute defensive nightmare, and was never able to recover. It all started just nine minutes in when Brad Smith needlessly barged into the back of Ola Kamara who was chasing down a ball on the right side of the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Stefan Frei the wrong way with the ensuing penalty, and the Galaxy took the early lead.

Los Angeles found a second just before halftime as Ibrahimovic looked off the defense and then unlocked the back line with a burst forward on the left flank, feeding Romain Alessandrini through who burst towards the end line and crossed to Kamara for an easy tap-in just five minutes before the break.

Past halftime, the home side continued to dominate. Seattle held 55% possession, but failed to record a single shot on target until the 66th minute, finishing with just one among the 14 total attempts on net. LA would cash in on Seattle’s wastefulness for a 3-0 lead on a goal by Emmanuel Boateng in the 52nd minute and put the game out of sight.

The win lifts the Galaxy above the Vancouver Whitecaps and into 7th place in the Western Conference, with Vancouver’s loss to FC Dallas. They now sit just three points back of Seattle in the final playoff spot. The Sounders saw a nine-game winning streak and 12-game unbeaten streak snapped last time out against Philadelphia, and now the sudden slide could have devastating consequences should it continue.

FOLLOW LIVE: Sounders go for 9 straight wins; TFC’s last stand?

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Saturday night’s slate of MLS fixtures gets under way at 7:30 p.m. ET, when Toronto FC begin what can only be described as their last chance at securing a 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs berth, at home against LA Galaxy. With seven games remaining, Greg Vanney’s side — the defending champions — trail Montreal Impact by nine points. D.C. United and New England Revolution must also be leapfrogged in the process, meaning TFC sit ninth in the Eastern Conference halfway through the month of September.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: 8 games in MLS, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET ]

Later in the evening, the Western Conference’s top three seeds — FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles FC, in that order, for now — are all in action. FCD will host Columbus Crew SC at 8 p.m. ET; Sporting KC will visit San Jose Earthquakes at 10:30 p.m. ET; LAFC will host New England in the same late-night time slot.

The last time Brian Schmetzer’s Seattle Sounders lost a game was June 30. That was a dozen games ago. Since then, the Sounders have won nine of 11, including the last eight in a row. The two-time defending West champs go for nine straight against their Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver Whitecaps at 10 p.m. ET.

Click the link above to follow along in real-time, and check back with PST early Sunday morning for a full recap of all of the action.

Tonight’s full MLS schedule

Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy — 7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew SC — 8 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers — 8:30 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United — 9:30 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders — 10 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City — 10:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles FC vs. New England Revolution — 10:30 p.m. ET

Sunday’s MLS schedule

D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls — 1 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC — 5 p.m. ET

MLS roundup: Sounders win again; FCD, LAFC pacing the West

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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September is here, which means the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs are less than two months away.

[ MORE: No Pulisic on USMNT roster for Brazil, Mexico ]

Points won in September and October count just the same as points won in March and April, but these are the advantageous positions — and predicaments — in which the 17 teams still realistically chasing a postseason berth now find themselves…

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Sporting Kansas CityHIGHLIGHTS

Seattle’s winning streak now stands at eight games after Brian Schmetzer’s side overcame an early deficit at home to knock off the similarly hot (four straight wins) Sporting KC on Saturday.

Diego Rubio scored his fifth goal in five games, after just two minutes, but the visitors’ lead was wiped away just 10 minutes later when Raul Ruidiaz tapped the ball into an empty net on the business end of Brad Smith‘s seeing-eye cross. 1-1 was the score at halftime, but it didn’t last much longer than that.

Harry Shipp’s cross deflected off of Graham Zusi and floated over the helpless head and hands of Tim Melia to make it 2-1 in the 52nd minute, and Sporting’s unraveling was complete four minutes later when Ike Opara played the ball with his upper arm. Nicolas Lodeiro stepped up to the penalty spot and converted with ease.

The win sends Seattle even further up the table, into fifth place in the Western Conference, after their torrid start to the season which saw the two-time defending West champions take just 12 points from their first 15 games. Since their current 11-game unbeaten streak began, the Sounders have won 29 of a possible 33 points.

Montreal Impact 3-0 New York Red BullsHIGHLIGHTS

Just about every week, MLS throws its viewers an unexpected curveball — a surprising result that not a single soul saw coming. This week, it was the Supporters’ Shield-leading New York Red Bulls going up to Stade Saputo and losing 3-0 to the Eastern Conference’s sixth-place side, Montreal Impact.

Rod Fanni (30th minute), Bacary Sagna (38th) and Ignacio Piatti (94rd) scored the goals for Remi Garde’s side which now sits six points clear of seventh place, though they have played three and two more games, respectively, than the seventh and eighth-place D.C. United and New England Revolution (both on 30 points).

FC Dallas 4-2 Houston DynamoHIGHLIGHTS

Back in the West, Dallas extended their lead to three points — over now-second-place Los Angeles FC — with a 4-2 home victory over Houston. It was 3-0 after 51 minutes, before Houston woke up and made a cursory effort to get back into the game.

Michael Barrios opened the scoring in the 10th minute, then Santiago Mosquera bagged a three-minute brace beginning in the 48th. Two minutes later, Mauro Manotas pulled a goal back for the visitors, but Reto Ziegler converted from the penalty spot just five minutes after that to restore the three-goal advantage. Alberth Elis’s 72nd-minute penalty conversion was as close as Houston would get as Wilmer Cabrera’s side fell to 13 points out of the West’s sixth and final playoff place.

Toronto FC 2-4 Los Angeles FCHIGHLIGHTS

LAFC’s 4-2 victory away to defending champions Toronto FC might appear equally perplexing to New York’s debacle in Montreal, but perhaps it shouldn’t anymore. After 27 games played, TFC have just 27 points and they trail the aforementioned Canadian side by nine points for a playoff place.

Like Houston, it was 3-0 — albeit on TFC’s home turf — before Greg Vanney’s Reds put up a fight. Carlos Vela (23rd minute), Diego Rossi (47th) and Lee Nguyen (49th) established the lead for Bob Bradley‘s expansion side before Jozy Altidore scored in the 74th and 93rd minutes to make things more than a little interesting. Vela sealed the three points with his second goal of the game just a minute later, though, and LAFC moved one point ahead of Sporting for second in the West.

Elsewhere in MLS action

D.C. United 3-1 Atlanta United
Columbus Crew SC 2-1 New York City FC
New England Revolution 1-1 Portland Timbers
Orlando City SC 2-2 Philadelphia Union
Real Salt Lake 6-2 LA Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Top 10 goals in Clint Dempsey’s career

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Clint Dempsey announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a record-breaking career both in the U.S. and in the Premier League.

Over his 15-year career, Dempsey has scored a lot of goals. Around 211 to be exact in officials matches for the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, the Seattle Sounders and of course, the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Let’s take a look back at our favorite ten goals from Dempsey’s career, in descending order from 10.

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Clint Dempsey announces retirement after stellar 15-year career

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It’s the end of an era for the Seattle Sounders, U.S. Men’s National Team and soccer as a whole in the United States.

Clint Dempsey announced Wednesday that he has retired after a 15-year professional career, which included stops at Fulham and Tottenham in the Premier League. Little did many know when the New England Revolution draft the Nacagdoches, Texas native with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft that he would go on to become one of, if not the best American striker in history.

[A LOOK BACK: Dempsey wins 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year]

“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” said Dempsey. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
In addition to scoring 57 Premier League goals between Fulham and Tottenham, Dempsey finishes his career tied for first place in the USMNT scoring department with former teammate Landon Donovan at 57 goals. Dempsey’s 141 caps is third all time and 21 assists is tied for fourth-most all time.
After being drafted, Dempsey was an instant sensation, starting 26 times and scoring seven goals with two assists to help take the Revolution to the Eastern Conference finals. Dempsey’s career extended all the way back to that of Taylor Twellman, a former teammate, as well as his coach, former Liverpool great Steve Nicol.
After two more solid years with the Revolution, Dempsey made the decision to move abroad, joining Fulham for a reported $4 million, at the time the highest transfer fee for an American player, and he added to the American flavor at the club, which already had Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra in the squad.
After a slow start in his first half-season, Dempsey went on to be a reliable starter up top, scoring six, six, and seven goals in his first three full Premier League seasons. He scored 12 league goals in 2010-2011 and exploded a year later with 23 goals in all competitions. With his value at his highest, Dempsey essentially held out from preseason training for Fulham, asking to move to a bigger club.
Dempsey finally got that move in 2012, moving to Tottenham. Alas, with seven goals in 29 appearances, Dempsey was never able to break into the first team as the main starter.
Around this time, Dempsey took advantage of MLS clubs realizing it could spend big, Designated Player dollars on Americans, and Dempsey followed national team teammates Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley in returning from Europe to the league they came up in.
Dempsey’s move to the Seattle Sounders attracted an incredible amount of local media attention, and fans even greeted him at the airport.
Dempsey went on to score 53 goals as the talisman up top for the Sounders, leading the club to an improbable MLS Cup title in 2016 and a return to the final in 2017.
At the height of his time in Europe, Dempsey was also becoming a star for the USMNT. The striker made his first USMNT appearance in 2005 and went on to be the first USMNT player to score in three World Cups, beginning in 2006 and finishing as he captained his nation in 2014, scoring in the opening minute in the USA’s first game in Brazil against Ghana.
The no-nonsense Dempsey had plenty of memorable goals and moments in big USMNT matches, against hated rivals such as Mexico and a famous goal in a 1-0 win at Italy.
Deuce will surely go down in history as one of the best players to ever play the game, and perhaps even more impressive was his comeback after a heart condition forced him off the field in 2016, forcing him to miss the tail end of the Sounders’ magical run to the MLS Cup title. Dempsey returned in six months, beating the odds, and played another 18 months before he decided to call it quits.

This story will be updated.