• Seattle, Portland, Sporting KC, and Houston are all headed to the playoffs after a busy Sunday.
By Associated Press
October 16, 2017

A roundup of Sunday's MLS action.

Kansas City 0, Houston 0

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Andrew Dykstra recorded his first shutout since 2014 and Sporting Kansas City clinched a playoff spot after a 0-0 tie against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday in their second meeting in four days.

After the game, Houston learned it secured a playoff berth - needing losses by Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.

Two key players from each team returned from international duty. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi both started for Sporting KC after the United States' crushing loss to Trinidad & Tobago. Houston's Alberth Elis started in his return from playing with Honduras and fellow countryman Romell Quioto entered as a second-half substitute.

Kansas City (12-8-13) is winless in its last eight regular-season games against the Dynamo. Houston (12-10-11) has just one win in its last 19 regular-season road matches.

Tyler Deric's huge save in the finals seconds preserved his fifth shutout of the season for Houston. He had a season-high nine saves.

Sporting KC's Jimmy Medranda settled a pass on the left end line in the 97th minute and sent a cross in front of goal that deflected off two Houston defenders. Sporting KC's Latif Blessing and Benny Feilhaber were each in position for a game-winning tap-in but Deric cleared it with a punch-out.

New England 2, NYCFC 1

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Diego Fagundez scored two goals in the second half and the New England Revolution beat 10-man New York City FC 2-1 on Sunday.

New England (12-15-6) set a club record with 12 wins at home. NYC (16-9-8) had several possibilities to clinch a bye in the playoffs but needed at least a draw.

Fagundez opened the scoring in the 51st minute and made it 2-0 in the second minute of stoppage time with his sixth goal of the season. Andrew Farrell set up the first goal by dribbling into the area and finding Fagundez at the top of the box. It was his first goal since June 3. Fagundez's next goal was a tap-in after his breakaway shot was knocked back to him.

Khiry Shelton scored for NYC in the third minute of extra time by getting past the defense for a long ball and heading it in.

NYC's Jack Harrison was shown a straight red card in the 26th minute for a late challenge on Teal Bunbury. It was Harrison's first red card of his professional career and he'll miss the regular-season finale against Columbus Crew SC next weekend.

Chicago 3, Philadelphia 2

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) — Nemanja Nikolic scored two of his three goals in the second half, increasing his league-leading total to 24, and the Chicago Fire rallied for a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.

The Fire (16-10-7) moved into third in the Eastern Conference, which would be good for a home game in the playoffs. Nikolic is four goals clear of his pursuers for the Golden Boot with one game to play.

Nikolic opened the scoring in the third minute, getting to a long feed from Brandon Vincent and aided by a bad angle by defender Jack Elliot before beating Andre Blake. Nikolic's penalty kick in the 64th tied it at 2 after David Accam was taken down in the penalty area. Nikolic completed his first career hat trick with an easy finish from the middle of the box on a feed from Brandon Vincent for the game-winner in the 78th.

Chicago defender Johan Kappelhof's own goal put the Union in a 1-1 tie at the six-minute mark and a feed from Haris Medunjanin to Alejandro Bedoya for a chip shot was good for the lead from the 13th minute.

Philadelphia (10-14-9) finished 1-10-6 on the road this season.

Columbus 1, Orlando 0

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Ola Kamara scored his 17th goal of the season on his birthday and the Columbus Crew beat Orlando City 1-0 on Sunday to spoil Kaka's final game with the Lions.

Kaka, the 35-year-old Brazilian soccer star, announced on Wednesday he would not re-sign with Orlando City after a three-year run with the expansion team.

''A lot of emotions today,'' Kaka said after the game. ''It was a special day for me because the whole day keeps reminding the past three years - everything that already happened in this city, with this club.''

Kamara scored on an easy redirection in the 67th minute. Federico Higuain found an open Hector Jimenez along the left side for a cross in front of goal to an unmarked Kamara.

Columbus (16-12-5) sits in fifth in the Eastern Conference, three points back of second-place New York City FC.

Zack Steffen kept Orlando City (10-14-9) scoreless for his ninth shutout, which is the most by a goalkeeper in his first year of MLS play.

New York 0, Atlanta 0

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Brad Guzan and Luis Robles each made three saves, and Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, both playoff bound, battled to a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Atlanta (15-9-9) could have moved into a tie for second in the Eastern Conference with a chance to earn a first-round bye when the regular season ends next Sunday. A win would have guaranteed United a home game in the knockout round.

Guzan picked up his eighth shutout for expansion Atlanta with a couple of big saves in the wide-open game, including robbing Bradley Wright-Phillips from point-blank range in the 65th minute. Guzan also had a diving save in the 73rd to deny Gonzalo Veron with Josef Martinez clearing the rebound.

Robles earned his 10th clean sheet for the Red Bulls (13-12-7). His key save was in the sixth minute on a diving stop of Yamil Asad's close-range header.

The teams had a combined 22 shots, 13 by the Red Bulls.

LA 3, Minnesota 0

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Romain Alessandrini had two goals and an assist, Clement Diop made four saves, and the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated Minnesota United 3-0 on Sunday.

Home games haven't been kind this season for the Galaxy (8-17-6), who have the worst home record in the league with just three wins and were just 1-12-4 in the previous 17 games, giving up almost 2 1/2 goals a game. Minnesota (10-17-6) will also miss the playoffs, but United came in averaging 2.4 goals for a 3-1-1 record in their previous five games.

Alessandrini's goal in the 11th minute was all Diop would need to get his second shutout in his 16th career game. A quick restart by Giovani dos Santos sent the ball to Alessandrini and he dribbled into the right side of the box for a quick left-footed release into the far corner of the goal.

It took a review to give the Galaxy their second goal, which was a header by Jonathan dos Santos from 18 yards out in the 22nd minute. The ball hit the crossbar and fell inside the line, although play continued until the review gave dos Santos his first goal.

Alessandrini wrapped it up with his 13th goal in stoppage time.

Portland 4, D.C. 0

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sebastian Blanco scored a pair of second-half goals to lead the Portland Timbers over D.C. United 4-0 on Sunday.

Near the end of the first half, Portland forward Darren Mattocks intercepted a weak backpass by defender Chris Korb, then was taken down by goalkeeper Steve Clark for a penalty. Diego Valeri knocked his shot past Clark and into the lower left corner of the net for his 21st goal. Valeri has scored in 10 of the last 11 games.

''Getting that first goal really makes a difference, because then they have to open up,'' Portland coach Caleb Porter said. ''We knew it would take time.''

Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella preserved the lead in the 49th minute with two saves in quick succession, first diving to keep out a header by Luciano Acosta, then blocking a rebound shot by Patrick Mullins.

A minute later, Portland doubled the lead. Alvas Powell dribbled in from the right wing and, with no defenders attempting to close him down, unleashed a left-footed shot past a diving Clark for his second of the season.

The Timbers extended the lead to 3-0 in the 60th minute. Valeri showed off his juggling skills while controlling a long pass, then exchanged passes with Blanco on the edge of the penalty area, creating enough space for Blanco to rip his own left-footed shot inside the far post.

''I thought that third goal is the epitome of (how we want to play). It was a great little sequence with Blanco and Valeri, and those two guys are really clicking,'' Porter said. ''Blanco's been excellent.''

Blanco capped the scoring in the 86th minute, picking up a loose ball and dribbling past multiple defenders and Clark before knocking in his eight of the season.

The win moves Portland into second place in the Western Conference with 50 points, two behind Vancouver, with the Timbers hosting the Whitecaps in the season finale next Sunday.

D.C. remains in last place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points.

''Unfortunately, were in a spot right now (out of the playoffs) where this is an evaluation process,'' D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. ''We're finding out who can cut it and who can't. That's the reality.''

Seattle 4, Dallas 0

SEATTLE (AP) — Will Bruin wanted to think about scoring goals—not stopping them.

On Sunday, the Seattle Sounders forward came through in timely fashion.

Bruin scored twice in four minutes midway through the second half and the Sounders clinched a playoff berth and a chance to defend their MLS Cup by beating FC Dallas 4-0 on Sunday.

The Sounders (13-9-11) are tied for second place in the Western Conference with Portland at 50 points apiece with one game left, two points behind West-leading Vancouver.

Dallas (10-10-13) still has not clinched a playoff spot and is tied with San Jose for the final position at 43 points after Sunday's games.

Bruin had been stuck on eight goals since Aug. 5, when he scored the opener in a 4-0 victory at Minnesota. In two months since then, he and coach Brian Schmetzer had been focusing on defending as much as they did on scoring.

Just not against Dallas.

''Before we went out onto the field, he came up to me and said, `Coach, what do you want me to do defensively?''' Schmetzer said. ''I said, `Will, I don't want you to talk about defending—I just want you to score some goals.''

Bruin responded, and now has 10 for the season, the fourth time in his career to reach double digits.

''It has been awhile—it feels good to get back on the scoresheet,'' Bruin said. ''It's always my initial goal at the end of the year to hit double digits, and to go from there. It took me until the 33rd game this year. I would have liked it to be sooner, but I'm there.''

With Seattle clinging to the lead on Victor Rodriguez's 31st-minute goal, Bruin made it 2-0 in the 64th minute. The initial shot by Clint Dempsey was saved by goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, but Gonzalez was not able to gain control of the rebound. Bruin, with defender Atiba Harris hanging onto him, still got to the ball at the top of the 6-yard box and punched it into the back left corner.

Late in the 67th minute, Bruin was playing just to the left of the penalty spot when the ball was deflected his way, and he fired it into the back left side.

Lamar Neagle added a stoppage-time goal for Seattle.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei picked up his league-leading 12th shutout. That broke the Sounders' club record of 11, set in 2010 by Kasey Keller.

Although Dallas is tied with San Jose on points for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff berth, the Earthquakes currently have the tiebreaker based on two more wins (12 to 10). So, coach Oscar Pareja's team needs a result next Sunday at home against Los Angeles, plus some help from elsewhere around the league for a postseason ticket.

''I thought we played a very good first half and a terrible second half,'' Pareja said. ''We didn't execute in the second half, and there were many holes in the game that Seattle took advantage of and put the game away very early.

''We want to keep fighting, despite the frustration of this game,'' Pareja added. ''We will prepare this week with the same responsibility so we can clinch.''

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