Winning the Supporters' Shield has been a longshot for quite some time now, but there seemed to be sliver of hope after the Los Angeles Galaxy lost on Tuesday. Well, we can officially stop worrying about it after the Seattle Sounders' 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. The Sounders can now finish with no more than 63 points, one fewer than the Galaxy's current total.
It certainly wasn't the most crisp Sounders' performance we've seen, which was probably pretty predictable. Saturday's game was the Sounders' 17th competitive match since Aug. 3. During that stretch, they've gone 12-3-2, clinched a MLS playoff spot, booked their ticket in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and won their third straight U.S. Open Cup. The Sounders were probably due for a come-down game, which this certainly was.
It wasn't so much that the Sounders played bad, it was more that they lacked the kind of urgency and fluidity we've gone accustomed to. They out shot the Union 13-6, but put just two of those shots on frame. Brad Evans had the Sounders' two best chances, and neither of his shots were officially on goal. His first came on a nice feed from Lamar Neagle, but he skied his shot over a sliding Union defender. His second was a nice chip that actually beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath but hit off the crossbar.
If Evans finishes either opportunity, the Sounders would have led and maybe the game turns out differently. Instead, the Union grabbed the lead in the 60th minute on a Freddy Adu goal that was the product of some nifty endline work by Gabriel Farfan. James Riley was attempting to screen Farfan off the ball, but the rookie midfielder reached around and was able to poke the ball to the front of the net, where Adu one-timed it past Kasey Keller. About 10 minutes later, Brian Carroll essentially put the game away with his first goal of the season.
Perhaps worse than having their dreams of the Shield dashed, Jeff Parke had to be pulled at halftime with an apparent concussion. As with any concussion, his return date will have to be determined once more tests are done. Clearly, losing their most consistent center back for an extended period would be highly problematic.
If we're in the mood to look for a silver lining, maybe the loss is not the worst thing in the world. The Sounders now have a week off and can go into Keller's final home game without worrying about the Shield or really even playoff positioning. The day can be just about celebrating Keller's career.
There is a fine line to walk, though. Last year, we saw the Sounders go through a similarly torrid run that ended just about this time. After winning six straight across all competitions, they lost their final two competitive matches of the season and ultimately lost to the Galaxy in the first-round of the playoffs. Avoiding that same kind of post-Cup hangover is an absolute necessity.