Sounders Insider

Sounders win; will open playoffs at Salt Lake

Sounders FC wanted to go into the MLS playoffs with momentum and accomplished that goal Saturday night with a 3-1 win over Chivas USA at Home Depot Center.

The Sounders will open the playoffs Saturday at Real Salt Lake, which finished third in the Western Conference, one spot behind Seattle. The clubs will meet in a two-game, aggregate-score series, with the second game to be played Nov. 2 or 3 at CenturyLink Field. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. Game times were not immediately announced.

The Sounders’ position in the MLS standings was set regardless of the result at Chivas. However, coach Sigi Schmid said he wanted to his team end the regular season in a good rhythm, and he backed that up by sending a top-level lineup onto the pitch.

The decision seemed to backfire in the first half when midfielder Mauro Rosales was carried off on a stretcher after suffering a knee injury. No prognosis was immediately given, however, Rosales watched the game from the bench and seemed to walk well under his own power.

Seattle surged to a 3-0 lead starting with an own goal credited to Chivas’ Andrew Boykens after a nice move by Fredy Montero. Alvaro Fernandez and Sammy Ochoa also added goals.

Kasey Keller’s bid for a shutout in his final regular season game lasted until the 83rd minute, when Victor Estupinan put Chivas on the board.

Seattle ends the season 18-7-9. Those 63 points are a club record, and second highest in the league this season. The Sounders lead the league with 56 goals scored and nine road wins. Keller ended with nine shutouts.

These Sounders topped the 12-7-11 record (47 pts.) of their expansion 2009 season, and the 14-10-6 (48 pts.) of last season.

Now they also hope to improve their playoff results. The club has never won a playoff series, losing to Houston in 2009 and Los Angeles last season.

They split two games with RSL this season, with each club taking 2-1 wins on the other’s home pitch.

I'll be back with that information if they do, and will add that and quotes in new posts above. Meanwhile, unofficial stats:

83rd minute:

GOAL Chivas. Mondaini heads a Trujillo cross back into the box and Estupinan heads it in, taking away Keller's chance at a shutout in his final regular-season game. Ever. Sounders 3-1.

73rd minute: GOAL Seattle. Diving header by Ochoa finishes pass from Montero. Seattle, 3-0.

68th minute: GOAL Seattle. Brilliant finish by Fernandez after sweet pass from Brad Evans . Sounders, 2-0.

(Ochoa just misses making it 3-0 a minute or two later.)

Playoff information: We had been told not to expect playoff dates/times tonight. However, word out of Salt Lake is that their home-game information will be released one Dallas result goes final: probably around 9:30 Pacific time.

53rd minute: GOAL Seattle. Own goal, actually, after nice move by Montero in box. Seattle, 1-0.

Second half: Has begun. No Sounders changes. Chivas subbed Andrew Boyens for Heath Pearce.

Halftime: Still scoreless here. But believe it or not, San Jose is up on Dallas, 4-0. So, without a five-goal turnaround there, Sounders will open playoffs next weekend at Salt Lake.

Sounders split with RSL this season, winning 2-1 on the road, losing 2-1 at home.

33rd minute: Still scoreless. In sideline interview Schmid says of Rosales injury "I don't think as it's bad as it was last time ... more of a precaution."

From San Jose: Dallas falls behind 2-0 early. A suspicious man would be suspicious.

From RSL: Salt Lake and Portland tie 1-1. That means a win by Dallas tonight at San Jose makes the Hoops the Sounders' opening playoff opponent. Loss or draw resurrects RSL.

20th minute: Still scoreless. But in Utah, a 1-1 draw between RSL and Portland. That means a win by Dallas tonight at San Jose means Seattle opens playoffs at Dallas; draw or loss means RSL after all.

Sixth minute: Mauro Rosales being taken off on a stretcher after a nasty challenge by Zemanski. Everyone on the pitch seems to be taking it seriously, and Rosales himself seems clearly hurt and distressed. Injury is to right knee ... same one injured earlier.

Yellow to Zemanski.

Levesque in for Rosales.

Kickoff: Game has begun. Sounders in green/green, Chivas in red/blue.

Meanwhile in Utah, RSL 1, Portland 0 in second half.

Lineup: For Sounders: GK Keller; D Gonzales, Hurtado, Parke, Riley, M Fernandez, Alonso, Evans, Rosales; F Montero, Fucito. Reserves: Meredith, Scott, Wahl, Friberg, Neagle, Levesque, Ochoa.

For Chivas: Kennedy; Valentin, Pearce, Lopes, Jazic; Zemanski, Gaven, LaBrocca, Moreno, Mondaini; Angel. Reserves: Thornton, Boyens, Trujillo, Lahoud, Cortez, Estupinan, Flores.

Weather: Looks like a pretty nice night for soccer in Carson, Calif.: low clouds and temperatures in the mid- to low-60s.

Basics: Kickoff is 7:30. Game will be shown on KONG 6/16, heard on the usual radio outlets, and we'll be blogging here and tweeting @donruiztnt.

Sounders finish second and Chivas out of the playoffs regardless of result. Other scoreboards Sounders will be watching: Portland and Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas at San Jose. Those two go into tonight's games tied for third in the West -- meaning the Sounders' playoff opponent spot. If they remain even tonight, RSL has the tie-breaker.

Pregame:

A little reading material on tonight's game while counting down to the 7:30 kickoff:

Here's our preview story from The News Tribune.

Here's a preview from ESPN.com making the case that Chivas USA might have been closer to OK this season than the record implies.

And finally -- for now -- and MLSsoccer.com piece saying the Goats hope to go out on a winning note.

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