A Clint Dempsey second half goal gave the Seattle Sounders a one-goal advantage over Chivas de Guadalajara as the sides head into next week’s CONCACAF Champions League second leg in Mexico.
In the 78th minute, Henry Wingo was played into space down the right wing, and the local product centered the ball to the oncoming Dempsey, who timed his run perfectly and slotted home past Chivas goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota.
[MORE: TFC comes back to top Tigres in CCL action]
Chivas had chances to score throughout the match but Stefan Frei and the Sounders backline – which had a healthy Chad Marshall back in the lineup – shut the door on the Mexican side.
After a weekend in which few U.S. Men’s National Team-eligible players featured across MLS starting lineups, the Sounders sent out six American starters and brought three more off the bench.
18-year-old sensation Handwalla Bwana, a Homegrown signing like Wingo, made his first Sounders start and caused the Chivas defense a lot of problems with his speed and dribbling ability.
There’s never been more on the line in the latest Trilliam Cup matchup.
For the first time, Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew will meet in the MLS Cup playoffs, kicking off at 8:00 p.m., with both teams taking different paths to the Eastern Conference finals.
Toronto FC battled the New York Red Bulls to win on away goals, after a 2-1 win in Red Bull Arena in the first leg, but tempers flared and the Supporters Shield winners will be without both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore on Tuesday night. The Crew meanwhile survived an incredible 120 minutes at Atlanta United to win in a shootout, and then carried that momentum into a 4-3 aggregate victory over New York City FC.
[FOLLOW: MLS Conference Finals Play-by-Play]
Now, with the Crew’s status in Columbus still up in the air, Crew fans have one chance to pack MAPFRE Stadium to support their team and prove to the league they can support an MLS franchise.
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the upstart Houston Dynamo host a sold-out crowd as the defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders visit, with kickoff set for 9:30 p.m.
The Dynamo stunned the injury-riddled Portland Timbers in the last round and the Dynamo has lost just once at home in MLS action this calendar year. On the other side, the Sounders are getting a major boost, with Osvaldo Alonso and Jordan Morris close to returning, either in this game or next week, and Clint Dempsey remains fit and raring to go back in his home state.
Follow all the action from tonight’s MLS Cup playoff matchups.