Sounders FC wants to check next box: Supporters' Shield
Fresh off their third straight U.S. Open Cup, Sounders FC still has chance to catch L.A. for best record in MLS.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Philadelphia @ Sounders FC, 7 p.m., Ch. 5
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U.S. Open Cup euphoria spilled into Wednesday for Sounders FC.
For starters, a 3,000-square-foot team scarf was flown over Seattle and Bellevue for two hours in celebration of a third straight Open Cup championship. The Sounders' fourth trophy in franchise history had been earned less than 24 hours earlier with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire in front of a record crowd of 35,615 at CenturyLink Field.
But even before the champagne had dried in the locker room and the confetti had been swept up off the artificial turf, the team was looking ahead to its next goal.
An MLS loss by the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy on Tuesday kept the Sounders' faint hopes alive for another trophy: the Supporters' Shield.
"We'll celebrate this for a couple days, but we have a big game Saturday," said midfielder Brad Evans of Seattle's 7 p.m. home game against Philadelphia. "If we can get three points there and catch some ground again, we put ourselves in a good position to possibly get the Supporter's Shield and carry this to the MLS Cup."
The Supporters' Shield is awarded to the team with the best regular-season record, and Seattle, which is seven points behind L.A. in the standings, must beat the Union to stay in the hunt.
"It's sort of one box after another we want to try and check," said general manager Adrian Hanauer. "We're going to do our best to win as much as we can along the way."
The CONCACAF Champions League confirmed on its website Wednesday that Seattle is the first team to qualify for the 2012-13 tournament by way of its Open Cup victory. The Sounders are placed in the preliminary round, but coach Sigi Schmid said the team hopes to qualify directly to the group stage (by winning the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup).
Each big win adds to the team's motivation.
Each trophy run provides more confidence.
"We've got plenty of guys that ... have been in these big moments before," said defender Jeff Parke.
Added goalkeeper Kasey Keller: "We're ready this year to go as far as we possibly can, and that's a cool mentality that we've had. Maybe in the first year we thought, 'OK, that's really cool to be an expansion team (that makes the playoffs).'
"This year there's a different belief. The main feeling is that this team knows it's not finished."
• Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez left Tuesday's game with what doctors believe is a slight concussion.
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