MLS

MLS: Sounders leapfrog Sporting KC to reclaim top spot

By Sports Desk September 26, 2021

Seattle Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 to reclaim top spot in the Western Conference in MLS on Sunday.

Cristian Roldan and Will Bruin scored to lift the Sounders to the summit in the west, leapfrogging hosts Sporting KC.

Sporting KC were on a three-game winning streak against Seattle – the longest active winning run against the Sounders as no team had won four in a row versus the franchise since San Jose Earthquakes in 2012-13.

But Seattle ended that skid against Sporting KC – Roldan opened the scoring in the 31st minute at Children's Mercy Park, where the Sounders star got on the end of Brad Smith's cross.

Bruin doubled the lead against the run of play 10 minutes into the second half after heading home at the far post.

Entering the fixture, the Sounders conceded an MLS-low 20 goals this season, with opponents scoring with just 7.2 per cent of their shots, also lowest in the league. Seattle had also outperformed their expected goals against by 8.1 this season (20 conceded, 28.1 expected).

The Sounders were breached by Johnny Russell on the hour mark, but Seattle held on for victory to sit two points clear of Sporting KC in the west.

Elsewhere, Austin – bottom of the Western Conference – stunned fifth-placed LA Galaxy 2-0, while Chicago Fire held second-placed Nashville to a 0-0 draw in the east.

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    Eric Ramsay is looking forward to the challenge Minnesota United face when they travel to Seattle Sounders in the MLS on Saturday.

    Minnesota are third in the Western Conference, having lost just one of their last nine matches in the competition.

    With leaders Real Salt Lake just four points in front of them, the Loons are looking to keep on the pressure, but they have never earned a point when travelling to Seattle.

    However, Ramsey is confident his team can put that history behind them after watching them rise to challenges throughout the season.

    "It's a challenge that we can go and meet head-on," he said. "We've met challenges all the way through this season in that way.

    "I can only imagine it's a positive, if anything. I said to the group that every time they've been asked to rise to the occasion, largely they've done that.

    "Going to a place like that, where we obviously find it difficult - we have a big few days that could arguably define the upcoming period."

    Meanwhile, Seattle have won just one of their last five outings and sit outside the playoff places in the table.

    Captain Stefan Frei admitted it is tough to look on the bright side after their poor run, but is hopeful they can get themselves out of trouble.

    "Finding positive things has been hard this year. Finding frustration is very easy," said Frei. "Finding negatives is very easy.

    "But you cannot succumb to that because no good will come from it. You've got to keep trying to find positives and, if not, create them so that we can all find a way out of this hole. Even as an individual, to find a way through it, so you can help the rest of the team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Seattle Sounders – Stefan Frei

    Seattle conceded the game-winning goal to Kansas City in the 85th minute on Saturday in a 2-1 defeat.

    The Sounders have allowed a result-changing goal in the last 10 minutes five times this season, including in three of their last four regular-season matches (two equalizers, one winner). Stefan Frei will be aiming to avoid conceding another late goal on Saturday.

    Minnesota United – Hassani Dotson

    Dotson scored just his second goal of the season in Minnesota's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas last time out. Only five players for the Loons have netted more times than him this season.

    MATCH PREDICTION: SEATTLE SOUNDERS WIN

    The Sounders have won all eight of their home matches against Minnesota United (incl. playoffs). The longest home winning streak by one team over another in MLS play (incl. playoffs) is nine straight, done five times, most recently by Philadelphia Union against D.C. United (2015-22).

    Six of Seattle's last eight home MLS matches have ended in draws (W1 L1), including the last three in a row. Dating back to last June, the Sounders have split the points in 10 of their last 15 home league games.

    Meanwhile, Minnesota have lost only one of their last nine regular-season matches (W5 D3) following a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday. The Loons enter their 17th match of the season with just three defeats this year after having never had fewer than five losses in the first half of a full season before.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Seattle Sounders – 41.6%

    Draw – 26.7%

    Minnesota United – 31.8%

  • LA Galaxy v Sporting Kansas City: Yoshida and hosts hungry for more after mid-season break LA Galaxy v Sporting Kansas City: Yoshida and hosts hungry for more after mid-season break

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    The Galaxy's six-match unbeaten streak ended before the mid-season break, with the Chicago Fire coming from behind to beat them 2-1.

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    "Maybe, generally, people say the Galaxy are doing well, but I feel like we could play better and get more points. We should be top of the league. I'll always stay hungry and greedy, and I want to do more and more and more."

    Head coach Greg Vanney echoed his thoughts, saying: "I'm pretty happy with the point total that we have from the first half of the season.

    "We let a couple of opportunities to be a little higher go. I think we learned a lot about ourselves that we need to clean up or keep using as we understand ourselves better."

    Sporting snapped a 10-match winless run last weekend with a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders, leaving them in 12th.

    Peter Vermes is confident his team can use that victory as a platform to push them forward for the second half of the season.

    He said: "This is a good team. The issue last year, which was different, was for the longest time, I had to be the one to tell them that. Our win over [Colorado] should reinforce that message that they're good. When they want to play, they can play."

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    LA Galaxy – Riqui Puig

    Puig has found the net in three consecutive appearances for the Galaxy for the first time in his MLS career. The Spaniard has been involved in seven goals since the beginning of May with only four players in MLS involved in more in that time.

    Sporting Kansas City – Johnny Russell

    Russell scored his seventh career regular-season goal against Seattle Sounders in the win on Saturday, his most against any opponent, breaking a tie with three other teams against whom he has scored six times, including the Galaxy.

    MATCH PREDICTION: LA GALAXY WIN

    The Galaxy ended a six-match winless run against Kansas City (D3 L3) with a 3-2 road win on March 24. The win was just the Galaxy's third in their last 17 matches against Sporting dating back to October 2015 (D7 L7).

    LA have lost only one of their last 17 regular-season home matches (W8 D8), including winning four of their last five in Carson (D1). The 17 matches in that run have seen a total of 67 goals for an average of 3.9 per match.

    Meanwhile, Kansas City ended a seven-match losing streak with a 2-1 victory over Seattle on Saturday. Sporting came from 1-0 down in the match as they have gone behind in 10 straight league matches dating back to mid-April.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    LA Galaxy – 53.5%

    Draw – 23.8%

    Sporting Kansas City – 22.7%

  • Nagelsmann urges Germany to beat pressure of being Euro 2024 hosts Nagelsmann urges Germany to beat pressure of being Euro 2024 hosts

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    The 36-year-old is taking charge of his first major tournament with Germany after taking over from Hansi Flick in September and has lost just one of his eight games since taking over.

    Germany have struggled in recent major tournaments, getting knocked out of Euro 2020 in the round of 16 before crashing out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stages.

    However, Die Mannschaft are aiming to end that run, chasing a fourth European title and their first since 1996, with Nagelsmann confident his team can channel their nervous energy into positive performances.

    "I think we're a bit nervous, but it's an important point, we have to have a certain nervousness," he said. "There was such a buzz [in the camp], a bit like in school. It was really loud: 'Can everyone please calm down a bit!'.

    "I look in our players' eyes and see the belief and will to win. I want us to believe in ourselves: we have great players, good togetherness, home advantage, we've had great training sessions and a good mentality.

    "We have everything: we just have to show it tomorrow, and that's why belief is very important.

    "We can beat pressure, and we can beat Scotland as well."

    Scotland arrive as heavy outsiders and are making just their fourth appearance at the Euros compared to Germany's record 14.

    The Tartan Army qualified second in their group after a strong opening to their campaign, and Nagelsmann praised their performances under Steve Clark.

    "They don't have world stars, but that makes them very dangerous," he added. "They work very hard and have a classic mentality, but it's not a kick and rush team. They can do that, but they can play football.

    "We will have more pressure on us than Scotland, and they will want to capitalise on that."

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