TUKWILA, Wash. — On Saturday night, the Seattle Sounders will take the field in Frisco, Texas (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online), with the goal of catching up to the league-leading LA Galaxy in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield.
Their opponents, FC Dallas, are in the same position, and with less than 10 regular-season games to play, a win for either Seattle or FCD could drop the other out of the race for the Shield entirely.
As it stands, the Galaxy lead the race for the Shield with a 13-3-9 record, good for 48 points. Dallas (12-6-7, 43 points) and Seattle (11-5-9, 42 points) are just behind them.
Coming into Saturday, the Sounders are well aware that Dallas have already gotten the best of them once this season. Seattle finished with 19 attempts on goal in a May 25 encounter at then-Qwest Field, but failed to solve FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman as Brek Shea scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the visitors.
“They are a quality team and they have done well,” Schmid said of FCD. “We felt we were a little unlucky in our game at home against them. We thought we played well in that game and deserved better than the result that we got, but that’s the way soccer is sometimes. We want to go down there and hopefully return the favor.”
Both teams are coming off midweek CONCACAF Champions League victories. While Seattle played primarily reserves, FC Dallas played their starters Wednesday night in Mexico. FCD went on to post a 1-0 victory over Pumas UNAM — the first CCL win on Mexican soil in MLS history — but the triumph may cost them their legs against Seattle.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid lauded FC Dallas for the victory, in which Pumas fielded a handful of reserves in the starting XI.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s good for US soccer,” Schmid said. “I think it’s probably a little insulting for the teams in Mexico to feel they can field an under-20 team and beat a pro team from up here, so I think it’s good Dallas went down there and made that statement that you got to come back with something better if you want to beat us.”
Despite their historic victory, Dallas have been streaky of late in league play, winning just once in their last four starts. However, they have yielded only eight goals to road teams in 2011, good for an 8-2-3 record at home.
Seattle attacker Lamar Neagle knows his Sounders have a tough challenge ahead.
“It’s definitely important going into the playoffs because of the seed and who you will face,” Neagle said. “But it’s also bragging rights. You want to be number one in anything you do.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS