MLS playoff capsules: Defending champ Sounders oust LAFC, 3-1

  • Seattle Sounders' Nicolas Lodeiro (10) is congratulated on his goal by Jordan Morris (13), who had an assist, during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against Los Angeles FC on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE — Nicolas Lodeiro scored early in the first half, Raul Ruidiaz added a second midway through the second, and the defending champion Seattle Sounders beat depleted Los Angeles FC 3-1 on Tuesday night in the opening round of the MLS Cup playoffs.

Lodeiro scored in the 18th minute to give the home side the early advantage and Ruidiaz finally finished one of Seattle’s numerous chances with his eighth career playoff goal in the 66th minute.

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Eduard Atuesta scored in the 77th minute to pull LAFC to 2-1, but Seattle regained its two-goal advantage moments later when Ruidiaz found Jordan Morris on a quick counter. Morris had missed a wide-open goal earlier in the half, one of several missed chances Seattle had in the opening stages of the second half to build a cushion.

Ruidiaz has six career playoff assists to go with his eight goals.

Seattle will host FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals next week.

The marquee matchup in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs lived up to its billing in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference final won by the Sounders in Los Angeles. And it was the Sounders coming out on top again.

LAFC needed to be nearly perfect beginning the playoffs short-handed. LAFC was without Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Palacios and Jose Cifuentes after all four tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty in South America.

NEW ENGLAND 2, PHILADELPHIA UNION 0

CHESTER, Pa. — Adam Buksa and Tajon Buchanan scored four minutes apart — both on assists from Carles Gil — in the first half and the New England Revolution beat the Supporters’ Shield winner Philadelphia Union in the MLS Cup playoffs.

New England will play No. 4 seed Orlando on Sunday in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Buksa headed in a free kick in the 26th minute for his seventh goal of the season. Buchanan cut back his defender at the corner of the 18-yard box to send a shot under MLS goalkeeper of the year Andre Blake for his third goal this season against the Union.

Gil nearly scored in the 52nd when his chip shot hit the crossbar.

NASHVILLE 1, TORONTO FC 0

EAST HARTFORD, Conn.— Daniel Ríos scored in the 108th minute and Nashville beat the defending Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC, becoming the first expansion team to win two MLS Cup playoff games.

Ríos followed Hany Mukhtar’s shot that Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg got a hand on, and tapped it into the back of the net. Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis sealed it with two close-range saves in the 121st minute, earning his MLS-leading 10th shutout of the season.

Nashville, which had three goals called back for being in an offside position, will play on Sunday at Columbus in the semifinals.

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Nashville had three good scoring opportunities midway through the second half. Mukhtar sailed an open header from inside the 6-yard box in the 72nd minute, Randall Leal sent a volley over the crossbar in the 75th and Alex Muyl pushed another header wide in the 76th. The Reds were outshot 21-10.

Toronto was the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot this season, but closed by losing four of its last five games.

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