TUWKILA, Wash. — After a stellar August that saw them jump over FC Dallas in the standings, the Seattle Sounders are allowing themselves to cast an eye towards the Supporters’ Shield.
While the award is a tremendous honor to the winner, Seattle defender James Riley says it doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easier path in the playoffs. But what it does guarantee is home-field advantage for the Conference Championship.
“It’s the home-field advantage that we’re looking for in the playoffs, whether that comes with the Supporters' Shield or anything else,” Riley said.
The LA Galaxy’s Labor Day draw against Sporting Kansas City brought the gap between first and second place to four points. With seven matches remaining for each team, it would be a challenge for Seattle to overtake an LA team that plays four of those remaining matches at home, where they are undefeated this season.
However, Seattle also play four of the last seven at home. The Sounders schedule includes five teams that are currently out of playoff position. Based on the standings, the most daunting challengers are Real Salt Lake, who are slated to play in Seattle on Saturday.
Riley was quick to quash any thoughts of coasting past RSL after Seattle’s 7-0-1 record across all competitions in August.
“August was August, now we’re onto a new phase,” Riley said. “We’re not going to pat ourselves on the back; we’re going to prepare as usual.”
With both teams competing in the CONCACAF Champions League and the regular season drawing to a close, squad selection will be important for the Sounders. Seattle also have the small matter of the US Open Cup on Oct. 4 to keep in mind.
For Schmid, the fact that Seattle play 12 more matches in all competitions before the regular season wraps up on Oct. 22 is not something on which to dwell.
“Our motto has always been ... you just deal with what you’re dealt,” Schmid said. “You don’t talk a lot about it. I’ve been reading a lot about the Galaxy having nine games in 31 days. I think we have eight games in 25. We just don’t make as big a thing about it.”
“The less you think about it, the more positive your mindset is going into the situation,” Schmid added.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.