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Angels Links: Tense affair in Vancouver opens up MLS conference semifinals

Plus, a surprising loss for Real Madrid, and England’s great year in youth international soccer.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle and Vancouver kick off the next round of the MLS Playoffs with a tense 0-0 draw at BC Place

The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal playoff match on Sunday. The game was a cagey affair, with both teams seemingly uninterested in putting together sustained attacking play, and both teams limited in their attacking options through injury and suspension. The closest we came to a goal was a Seattle cross from the left that Kendall Waston smashed off his own crossbar in an attempt to clear the ball. Though the game was a drab affair, both sides can take some solace in the result. Seattle prevented Vancouver from winning at home, and will go back to Seattle feeling confident. Meanwhile by preventing an away goal, Vancouver knows that any type of score draw (or win obviously) in the second leg will mean they move on to the next round.

Real Madrid suffer shocking loss to Girona in La Liga

Coming into this season, Barcelona were a team with a ton of question marks, having lost Neymar and their coach left, as well as a coming off of a season where they did not hit the heights that previous Barcelona teams had hit. Meanwhile, Real Madrid won La Liga last year, and have won the Champions League in back-to-back seasons. However, this season it’s Barcelona who look like the best team in Spain, and Real Madrid have been struggling. These struggles continued this past weekend with a stunning loss to newly promoted Girona. Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane chalked it off to his team just having a bad day. He’ll have to get his team playing a lot better if they want to have a chance at retaining their crown in La Liga.

England’s spectacular year in youth soccer continues with a U-17 World Cup title

England as a international team are roundly ridiculed and derided for losing in major tournaments, and not having won anything since their lone World cup victory in 1966. This year, though, has been a special one for the England youth teams. In May they made the U-17 Euro finals, only to lose on penalties to Spain. However after that their U-20 team won the Toulon tournament, and then won the U-20 World Cup. The England U-19 team won the Euros, and then the U-17 team got revenge on Spain and beat them in the final to win U-17 World Cup. Though it’s no guarantee, success at the youth levels usually lends itself well to success at senior levels. Hopefully there is something that U.S. Soccer can take from England’s performances, as the US have struggled to even qualify for the Olympics lately, but have seen decent performances from their U-20 and U-17 teams in the World Cup.

The best MLS playoff games

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew SC’s playoff game was a great game, widely considered one of the best playoff games in a long time. The game had everything (well everything except for a goal during regulation), fast and exciting play, last ditch tackles, great saves, and many shots that went off the woodwork. But how does it stack up to the MLS playoff games all time? FourFourTwo took a look at the best MLS playoff games of all time.

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