TUKWILA, Wash. -- The Seattle Sounders kick off the first of two season-closing matches with the LA Galaxy Sunday night at StubHub Center, with a chance to wrap up the franchise’s first-ever Supporters’ Shield.
The Sounders can claim the Shield with a victory on Sunday — even if LA wins the season-finale the following weekend in Seattle — due to their advantage in total wins. The golden opportunity to wrap it up early and have a stress-free home matchup to end the year isn’t lost on the players, according to Seattle center back Chad Marshall.
“We don’t want to save it for when we come back home,” Marshall said. “We’d rather do it down there. I don’t know what to expect, it’s going to be crazy.”
Both Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid and midfielder Brad Evans said they have never seen a season where it came down to the top two teams playing each other for the Supporters’ Shield in the season’s final games.
“Usually it’s one team that kind of runs off it with it, and this year it’s two with the exact same amount of points,” Evans said. “All we need is one in two games, so that’s what we’re focused on.
"But it’s definitely exciting.”
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Seattle will have to deal with an LA squad that will have an extra source of motivation and emotion, as Galaxy will use this match as an opportunity to honor retiring midfielder Landon Donovan.
“It’s going to be an emotional game for them obviously,” Schmid said. “I think everybody’s seen the way [Donovan] has played since he came forth and made the announcement…We just have to make sure that we dominate the game and that we keep the ball away from him as much as possible.”
Schmid will have a relatively replenished squad at his disposal. Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin are available for the Sounders after both returned from the US national team duty. Defenders Zach Scott and Leo Gonzales and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda all practiced at full-speed this week and are available as well.