The Sounders 2-1 loss to league-leading San Jose at CenturyLink Field all but eliminated them from the Supporters Shield race, while also dropping them two spots to fourth place in the MLS Western Conference as Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles moved past them with victories.
This season, there is added incentive to finish third or higher, because the fourth- and fifth-place finishers meet in a single match with the loser going home and the winner going on to face the top-seeded team in the conference.
As of now, that top seed is held by San Jose (18-6-6), and Seattle (13-7-9) probably would like to stay clear of them in the playoffs after going 0-3 against them this regular season.
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The Earthquakes have the league’s top offense and wasted little time showing it Saturday, breaking ahead in the second minute on a Simon Dawkins smash from 28 yards. That was the earliest goal the Sounders have surrendered this season, and second quickest ever.
Steve Zakuani evened things in the 14th minute, running onto a cross from Sammy Ochoa and sweeping it in from the back post. It was Zakuani’s first MLS goal since April 9, 2011. The play also marked Ochoa’s first MLS assist.
The Earthquakes' game-winner came in the 30th minute as Chris Wondolowski found space in front of the Sounders goal and redirected a pass from Victor Bernardez. It was the league-leading 22nd goal of the season for Wondolowski.
The Sounders and Earthquakes meet in an MLS Reserve League match at 2 p.m. Sunday at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The Sounders return to MLS play at next Saturday at Vancouver.
Back soon with quotes.
David Estrada in for Zakuani. Estrada's first appearance since foot injury in May.
53' Ochoa hits crossbar after nice play-on allowed. Then yellow to Bernardez who dumped Montero.
49th minute: Hurtado in for Ianni, who suffered a groin injury.
Second half: ... has begun.
Halftime: Earthquakes 2, Sounders 1.
Shots, 11-3 SJ; on goal, 4-1 SJ; corners, 4-2 SJ; duels won, 55.8% SEA; possession, 51.6% SEA.
In LA, the Galaxy are leading Toronto, 3-1.
30th minute: GOAL, San Jose. Wondolowski gets enough space in front of goal to redirect in for his 22nd of the season. Quakes, 2-1.
14th minute: GOAL Seattle. Steve Zakuani sweeps in a cross from the far post. His first MLS goal since April 9, 2011. Also, Sammy Ochoa's first MLS assist. Even, 1-1.
Second minute: GOAL San Jose. A Simon Dawkins rocket from about 27 yards. SJ 1-0.
First kick: We're under way.
Elsewhere: Real Salt Lake beat Portland, 2-1, tonight to at least temporarily pull one point ahead of the Sounders in the MLS Western Conference race. LA, which is now three points behind RSL and two behind Seattle, kicks off against Toronto at the same time the Sounders get started.
Lineup: Sounders starters: GK Gspurning; D Johansson Parke , Ianni, Gonzalez: M Tiffert, Alonso, Evans, Zakuani; F Ochoa, Montero. Reserves: Weber, Scott, Hurtado, Burch, Rose, Estrada, Martinez.
For San Jose: G Busch; D Beitashour, Hernandez, Bernardez, Morrow; M Balloushuy, Baca, Cronin, Dawkins; F Wondolowski, Gordon.
Pregame: I've arrived at CenturyLink for tonight's big MLS match: league-leading San Jose at Sounders.
First kick is scheduled for 7:30. The game will be shown on KONG 6/16, heard on the usual radio outlets, blogged here, with additional comments tweeted @donruiztnt.
Those traffic issues they're warning about might develop later, but my drive up from South King County was sort of typically free flowing, closed 520 bridge or not, Mariners game next door or not.