Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer has always said he didn’t consider four trophies in a single season likely.
And coach Sigi Schmid has long said that winning the Supporters Shield was the least likely of all.
That trophy – awarded to the MLS club with the best regular season record – shifted from difficult to impossible tonight as Seattle fell to the Philadelphia Union, 2-0, before a crowd of 36,304 at CenturyLink Field.
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The Sounders knew at kickoff that anything less than a win would mathematically clinch the Supporters Shield for Los Angeles.
And they knew fashioning a win would be difficult with their top three offensive weapons unavailable. Leading goal-scorer Fredy Montero was out due to yellow-card suspension. No. 2 goal-scorer Alvaro Fernandez was out due to concussion. No. 3 goal-scorer Mauro Rosales was out due to knee injury.
Between them, they represented 24 goals and 20 assists on a team that has recorded 51 goals and 45 assists on the season.
For most of the match, neither side was able to get much offense going – although Seattle had the better chances for the first two-thirds of the match. Three of the best chances came from Brad Evans, but one of those shots hit the crossbar and two went over.
Then in the 60th minute, Philadelphia broke through with Freddy Adu finishing in front of the goal after a pass from Gabriel Farfan.
That forced the Sounders’ to push forward aggressively. And they paid for it 10 minutes later when the Union scored on a counter, with Brian Carroll beating goalkeeper Kasey Keller to the far side after a pass from former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux.
Seattle falls to 16-7-9. Philadelphia moves to 11-7-14 and passed Kansas City for the Eastern Conference lead.
The Sounders won the U.S. Open Cup earlier in the week, and remain in the running for MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
They face a rare one-game week ahead, returning to league play next Saturday when San Jose arrives for the final home game of the regular season.
I'll include postgame quotes in some new posts above. Here are unofficial stats:
Scoring Summary: PHI -- Freddy Adu 2 (Gabriel Farfan 2) 60PHI -- Brian Carroll 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 9) 70 Philadelphia Union-- Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp (Jack McInerney 86), Freddy Adu (Amobi Okugo 75), Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Stefani Miglioranzi 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Danny Mwanga, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Chase Harrison.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Brian Carroll 2, Veljko Paunovic 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 10 (Veljko Paunovic 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Freddy Adu 4); SAVES: 2 (Zac MacMath 2)
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 46), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua 68), Pat Noonan (Sammy Ochoa 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Alvaro Fernandez, Roger Levesque, Zach Scott, Josh Ford.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Lamar Neagle 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Lamar Neagle 1, Pat Noonan 1); FOULS: 9 (Lamar Neagle 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Sammy Ochoa 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Lamar Neagle 3, Tyson Wahl 3); SAVES: 2 (Kasey Keller 2)
Misconduct Summary:SEA -- Lamar Neagle (caution; Reckless Foul) 63 Referee: Baldomero ToledoReferee's Assistants:-George Gansner; Ian Anderson4th Official: Ramon HernandezAttendance: 36,304Time of Game: 1:51Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-62-degrees
70th minute: Philly goes up 2-0 in 70th minute on long counterattack. It finishes with Brian Carroll beating Keller to the far side after a pass from Le Toux.
Attendance: CenturyLink attendance 35,304. At least 20,000 more than that expected next week for home finale vs. San Jose.
62nd minute: Ochoa in for Noonan.
60th minute: GOAL Philadelphia. Freddy Adu scores from in front of the goal, after a pass from Gabriel Farfan. Union up, 1-0.
Anything less than a win eliminates Seattle from Supporters Shield race.
53rd minute: Evans chip comes off the crossbar. With Montero, Fernandez and Rosales out, Evans and Neagle are the top Sounders goal-scorers on the pitch. (Five each.)
Parke update: He left the game with what the club is calling a head injury.
Second half: ... has begun. Ianni in for Parke. We're checking to see if there's an injury or just coach's decision.
Halftime: Nil-nil. Three shots by Sounders, one by Union. Two on goal by Sounders, none by Union. Three corners Philly, none Seattle.
First 30 minutes: Noonan got a shot on goal, but pretty much straight at Philly keeper Zac MacMath. Still very little offense either way.
First 15 minutes: Not really much going on. No good chances for Union, and not really even a sniff for the Sounders.
Kickoff: We're under way: Sounders in rave/blue; Union in navy/navy with a cool vertical gold strike. (I miss their primarily gold kits however.) (OK, now back to the game.)
Lineups: For Seattle: Keller; Wahl, Riley, Parke, Hurtado; Evans, Alonso, Friberg, Neagle; Fucito, Noonan. Reserves: Ford, Fernandez, Ianni, Jaqua, Levesque, Ochoa, Scott.
For Philly: MacMath; G. Farfan, Califf, Valdes, Williams; M. Farfan, Carroll, Paunovic, Mapp; Adu, Le Toux. Reserves: Harrison, McInerney, Miglioranzi., Mwanga, Nakazawa, Okungo, Torres.
Pregame: At CenturyLink, where the Philadelphia Union and Sounders FC will meet at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on KONG, heard on the usual radio outlets, and written about here and on Twitter.
We'll be back with lineups and other pregame, in-game and postgame reports.