TUKWILA, Wash. – Locked in a dead heat with the LA Galaxy for the Supporters’ Shield lead with just three regular season games to go, the Seattle Sounders look to keep pace Friday night in a home matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET; NBCSN, live stream at NBCSports.com).
A victory would give the Sounders at least a share of both the Western Conference and Shield leads going into their home-and-home against the Galaxy to wrap up the season. But Seattle will have to deal with an equally motivated Vancouver squad who are fighting for their playoff lives. The Whitecaps are now two points out of the West’s final postseason spot following the Portland Timbers’ 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night.
Although bagging an MLS Cup is still the ultimate goal for Seattle, head coach Sigi Schmid said that winning a Supporters’ Shield still carries weight for his team.
“[The Supporters’ Shield] does say who was the best team throughout the season. The MLS Cup, no matter how you want to cut it or slice it, is still a situation of who plays well as the end,” Schmid said. “There’s been a lot of times where [lower seeded teams] have won the championship because they hit a good streak at the end. The Supporters’ Shield is reflective of a body of work over 34 games. So for me, yeah, it does have some meaning.”
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The Supporters’ Shield isn’t the only trophy on the line for Seattle as they gear up to take on Vancouver. With a victory Friday, the Sounders would also clinch their first Cascadia Cup trophy since 2011.
“It would mean a lot because we haven’t had [the Cascadia Cup] for a couple of years,” Schmid said. “The team wants to get as much as they can. …They know that this can be a special year, and those years don’t always come along. So you don’t want to miss or bypass any opportunities.”
Seattle do have injury concerns going into the game, with defenders Zach Scott and Leo Gonzales and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda all questionable for the contest. The Sounders will also be without right back DeAndre Yedlin, who was called up to the US national team for their friendly Friday against Ecuador (7 pm ET; ESPN).