Supporters’ Shield well within Sounders’ reach in final stretch
The Sounders need 14 points from their final six games to guarantee winning the trophy for the best regular-season in MLS. Next week’s game against current league leader New York will be an important one in that race.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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CARSON, Calif. – The Sounders had some measure of pride to restore in their trip to Los Angeles this weekend.
Seattle’s last road game against the Galaxy had been an ugly 4-0 drubbing on May 26, with all four goals scored in a humiliating first half.
So, yes, Saturday’s 1-1 tie was an improvement, but success was going to be measured in other aspects, as well, like competitiveness, toughness and discipline — traits all missing in the embarrassment four months ago.
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning went so far to call Saturday’s result “secondary” to the performance.
“Tonight we showed a great effort, and that was very important after the first game we had here,” he said. “I think we played really well and had great chances even to win the game. We take the point. I think it’s a good point and we move on in the race (for) the Supporters’ Shield.”
Sounders FC (15-8-5, 50 points) fell behind in that race for the best regular-season record Sunday when Eastern Conference leader New York beat FC Dallas at home, 1-0, to jump to 51 points, albeit with two more games played.
Seattle will have an immediate chance to take back the lead, however; the Red Bulls will come to town for a Sept. 29 clash between the conference leaders.
The Sounders still control their Supporters’ Shield destiny, having played fewer games, and 14 more points would be enough to clinch the trophy. Three teams in the East can reach 63 points if they win out, but Seattle’s max is 68.
“I think we’re in a spot right now where we’ve built a good base as a team,” said defender Zach Scott. “We know what we want to do defensively — keep teams to as few chances as possible — and with the quality we have up front, we’re going to get a goal.”
Much of the Sounders’ success Saturday was a result of keeping L.A. star Robbie Keane off the scoresheet. The Irish international came into the game with six goals and two assists in his previous 209 minutes against the Sounders. Half that production came in May’s 4-0 blowout.
That defensive responsibility fell on Scott and center-back partner Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, and Keane’s frustrations were visible throughout the game.
“It was a little off,” Keane said. “Things weren’t falling. A lot of balls into the box, a few ricochets here and there, but they just didn’t fall for us. It’s just one of those things. But we played well. We’re certainly the better team.”
Contentious words ahead of what looks to be a contentious battle leaguewide down the stretch.
Moffat still adjusting
Sounders FC’s new acquisition, Adam Moffat, played his first 25 minutes for the team Saturday, though there were some indications he wasn’t completely comfortable
Coach Sigi Schmid recalled one moment when Moffat thought Eddie Johnson was expecting a short pass when the forward was actually setting up a run behind the defense.
“That’s something that will get better as they play more with each other,” Schmid added.
Moffat said a midseason adjustment to a new team can be tough, but noted “hopefully that will come with the more minutes I play.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.