Stefan Frei

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New-look Rapids trounce thin Sounders (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less):  What the Colorado Rapids could have been if they had appointed Robin Fraser earlier this season. Sure, the Western Conference is no walk in the park, but there are currently very few teams playing as inspired as the Rapids. A longtime forgotten assistant, Fraser has brought hope to Commerce City by doing what both Anthony Hudson and interim Conor Casey couldn’t do: empower the youth. In his first game at the helm, 22-year-old Jonathan Lewis scored the first double of his young career. On Saturday, Andre Shinyashiki recorded his own in the Rapids’ 2-0 win over a depleted Seattle Sounders, who were 10 players short due to international duty. Regardless, Colorado, for a second week in a row, put on a commendable performance with their newfound proactive scheme. The new era is certainly welcomed at Dick’s Sporting Good Park, regardless if the Rapids’ playoff chances are long out the window.

Three moments that mattered

41′ — Shinyashiki puts Colorado ahead  — There aren’t many rookies playing better than the 22-year-old.

70′ — Shinyashiki records a double — Seven goals this season for the Rapids forward.

86′ — Stefan Frei with the point-blank save — This has to be the Save of the Week.

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Man of the match: Andre Shinyashiki

Goalscorers: Shinyashiki (41′), Shinyashiki (70′)

Portland outlasts Seattle in gripping playoff second leg

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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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.

[ MORE: Louisville City defends USL Cup title ]

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.

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

Associated Press
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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.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

Atlanta United / @ATLUTD
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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.

WATCH: LAFC open brand new stadium with stoppage-time winner

Photo credit: LAFC / Twitter: @LAFC
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It seemed to take forever, but Los Angeles FC got there in the end — no, not their arrival to MLS in 2018, nor Sunday’s debut of Banc of California Stadium following a six-game road trip to start their expansion season.

[ MORE: Atlanta’s unbeaten run reaches 7; TFC implode vs. Chicago ]

The first goal. The first eruption to celebrate the first goal. The first win. The first three points.

For 92 minutes, Sunday’s clash with the Seattle Sounders felt destined for an anticlimactic ending: neither side threatened the other too terribly much, and 0-0 seemed a foregone conclusion. In truth, the severely shorthanded Sounders were the better of the two sides, perhaps the nerves and expectations of the big day were a bit much for LAFC.

Then, in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, it happened. Laurent Ciman laced a 30-yard free kick around a four-man wall and into the typically reliable, waiting arms of Stefan Frei. Only this time, Frei produced a spectacular howler.

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

The victory sends LAFC second in the Western Conference, just two points behind Sporting Kansas City (and with two games in hand), and gives Bob Bradley‘s side a three-game winning streak as they look ahead to the rest of their four-game home stand to begin life at Banc of California Stadium.