The Sounders are a step closer to making history. Needing a win to claim their first Supporters Shield title and homefield advantage through the MLS playoffs, Seattle (19-10-4) Sunday used a second-half burst to tie the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-2, at the StubHub Center in the first leg of a dramatic home-and-home with LA to close out the regular season.
A win or tie against the Galaxy (17-6-10) Saturday at CenturyLink Field will give the Sounders their first Supporters Shield, awarded the club that finishes the regular season atop the MLS table. Both teams have 61 points, but the Sounders have clinched the first tiebreaker — most wins.
Seattle was fortunate to come away with the tie after being dominated in possession for close to two-thirds of the match. But the momentum shifted in the 69th minute when Clint Dempsey controlled a pass from Obafemi Martins and scored on a left-footed strike to cut LA’s lead to 2-1.
In the 72nd minute, Martins, an MVP candidate, again played facilitator, assisting to Lamar Neagle, who registered his career-high ninth goal of the year to tie.
The flurry was needed after LA’s Baggio Husidic scored in first-half stoppage time to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. Marcelo Sarvas followed in the 50th minute with a goal to make it 2-0.
It seemed the Sounders would again fall to a team that has dominated them since Seattle began in MLS. Not only did the Galaxy eliminate the Sounders from the postseason in 2010 and 2012, it embarrassed the Sounders earlier this year in a 3-0 win at CenturyLink Field.
Sunday, the Sounders instead played spoiler in Landon Donovan’s final regular season MLS home game, though Donovan nearly scored in the opening minutes when he took a cross from Dan Gargan and headed it off the crossbar.
The Galaxy controlled possession until the 21st minute, when Martins fielded a Dempsey pass, juked and shot from just outside the box.GK Jaime Penedo made a diving save.
Otherwise, Sounders scoring opportunities were precious during a a first half that was physical and testy. The rough play continued during the final 45 minutes, with Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez picking up his second yellow card late in the match, warranting an ejection. He’ll have to sit out the season finale.