Sounders need all three vs. Philly to stay in Shield race

TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders trail the LA Galaxy by seven points with just three games remaining. While that math suggests a mighty hill to climb, the Sounders are giving zero indication that they are doing anything less than taking their best shot.

“The guys realize it and we talked about it today,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said at training on Thursday. “They realize mathematically, there’s still a shot at the Supporters' Shield. Sometimes it’s not over until it’s over.”

Anything less than a Sounders victory in any of their final three games will clinch the Shield for LA, who have the tiebreaker courtesy of their 1-0-1 head-to-head record.

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“What we want to do is put ourselves in a position where if they do slip, we’re there to take advantage of it,” Schmid explained. “If they don’t slip, then we’ve maintained our rhythm of play and maintained a consistency of play.”

The way the schedule worked out has added some intrigue to the Shield race. The Galaxy’s only game this week was on Tuesday against the New York Red Bulls. Their 2-0 loss opened a window of opportunity that could allow the Sounders to pull within one point before LA play their next game – the SuperClasico against Chivas USA – on Oct. 16.

The Sounders’ first chance to close that gap comes on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online) in a game that was originally scheduled for July 23. The Union had requested that the game be moved in order to accommodate a friendly against Real Madrid.

Making the task just a little bit harder for Seattle is that they’ll be without Fredy Montero for the match. The Sounders’ leading scorer must sit out the game with yellow-card accumulation. Álvaro Fernández, who suffered a head injury during Tuesday’s US Open Cup win, is another concern, while Schmid intimated he still isn't ready to put Mauro Rosales back on the pitch, either.

Though based on their current form, Seattle still seem a heavy favorite vs. the Union. Dating back to the beginning of August, the Sounders have gone 6-1-1 in MLS play. Over that stretch, they’ve also outscored their opponents 18-7. Including CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup matches during the same stretch, the Sounders are 12-2-2 with a 30-11 goal-difference.

Despite that busy schedule — in which they’ve qualified for the MLS playoffs, won the Open Cup and reserved a spot in CCL quarterfinals — the Sounders still have an appetite for more.

“We’ve got one this weekend and then the schedule slows down a little bit,” forward Mike Fucito said. “We’ve been on a couple tough stretches here, so that will be good. We’re definitely looking forward to this weekend and trying to catch LA, and maybe take the Supporters' Shield from them.”