As Sunday night’s clash between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy neared its 70th minute, Seattle’s path to a first-ever Supporters’ Shield seemed primed to become much more difficult.
The Sounders were in a 2-0 hole thanks to a pair of botched clearances, and squandered an array of opportunities to crack the scoresheet themselves. If the result were to hold, LA would have bagged a momentum-snatching victory and would only need a draw next weekend in Seattle to take the Shield for its own.
Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, everything changed.
The Sounders cut the lead in half on a 69th minute smash from Clint Dempsey, equalized just three minutes later on a tally from Lamar Neagle, and ultimately managed to salvage a 2-2 road draw at StubHub Center. With the result, the Sounders now remain in the Supporters’ Shield driver’s seat, and will claim the top spot in MLS with a draw or a victory against the Galaxy next weekend in Seattle.
The resolve and mental fortitude his team displayed to climb back into the contest after falling into the two-goal deficit was a positive for Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid, even if the Sounders couldn’t quite manage to pull out the victory.
“I was extremely proud of our team because we took goals at the worst possible times,” Schmid said. “I was really proud of the character of our team, being able to come back and lock it up at 2-2 and be knocking on the door to take the win.”
Seattle managed to bounce back in a hostile road environment, magnified to an even greater degree with the emotion and festivities surrounding retiring Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan. Dempsey said the tough atmosphere, combined with his team’s inauspicious start, means the Sounders can feel good about the result.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” Dempsey said. “There was going to be a lot of energy in the crowd because of the importance of the game…After going two goals down, to fight back and get a point, we feel good about that.”
Seattle and LA now must gear up for a second match in two weeks – a mammoth, Shield-deciding showdown next Saturday at CenturyLink Field. One obstacle the Sounders won’t have to deal with will be Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, who will have to sit out next weekend’s contest after picking up a second yellow card in the 88th minute on Sunday.
“It’ll be an important game, an exciting game,” Dempsey said of the season-finale. “I think our fans we’ll be up for it, we’ll be up for it. That’s what it’s all about: Playing in important games like that.”