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Pappa’s late double leads Sounders to Supporters’ Shield

Pappa_(Gershovich)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography

By JASON MITCHELL

SEATTLE — It took all spring, summer, and much of autumn, and even that wasn’t enough. It took nearly 90 more minutes of tense, testy, and at times ugly soccer, but the Seattle Sounders won their first Supporters’ Shield on Saturday afternoon, the last day of their 2014 season.

Second-half substitute Marco Pappa netted twice to lift the Sounders to a 2-0 win over the visiting LA Galaxy in front of 57,673 at CenturyLink Field.

“First off,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, “I want to congratulate our team for 34 solid weeks. I think winning the Supporters’ Shield is a reflection of what you’ve done. It’s work over a period of time. It’s 34 weeks of training. It’s 34 weeks of games. It’s all of that put together.”

Needing just a tie to win the Shield, the Sounders managed only four shots — all from Pappa — against a Galaxy team that successfully packed the box and eliminated counter attacks with quick, efficient fouls.

“I’m not going to put that in the category of one of our best games,” said Schmid.

Pappa first struck off a beautiful pass into space from Obafemi Martins, darting into the penalty area in the 85th minute and burying a one-touch strike past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. It was Pappa’s sixth goal of the season and Martins’ team-leading 13th assist of the 2014 campaign.

The Galaxy (17-7-10, 61 points) nearly responded twice in the waning moments of the match.

In the 89th minute, Marcelo Sarvas sent a deep cross to the far post that narrowly missed a streaking Gyasi Zardes before bouncing harmlessly out of bounds. In stoppage time, late substitute Alan Gordon found himself all alone just 10 yards from goal, but only sent a soft shot directly to goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Pappa gilded the lily in the 95th minute, stealing the ball from Penedo outside the penalty area and gently scooping a chip shot over center back A.J. DeLaGarza for a 2-0 lead moments before referee Mark Geiger blew the final whistle.

The Galaxy — despite playing on the road while missing Robbie Keane to injury and Omar Gonzalez to red-card suspension — looked the team more likely to get on the scoreboard first for much of the second half.

In the 69th minute, a Brad Evans turnover near midfield led to a Gyasi Zardes shot from the top of the penalty area that curved only inches past the right post. In the 80th minute, a Landon Donovan free kick from just outside the penalty area ricocheted off multiple players before Stefan Frei dove to his right to preserve the clean sheet.

“We controlled the game,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, “but we needed obviously to be more dangerous in the last third. They keep a lot of players back (against) us. They play it safe. We weren’t able to create enough chances.”

The Galaxy outshot the Sounders (20-10-4, 64 points) 8-0 in a physical, foul-filled first half, but neither team generated dangerous chances.

“We weren’t going to give up a goal today,” said Schmid. “That was our resolve.”

The teams combined for 40 fouls, six yellow cards, multiple shoving matches, and countless complaints to Geiger.

“It wasn’t a great game for the fans to watch,” said Clint Dempsey. “Yes, it’s great that we won, we grinded out a good result. But just the fouling, the kicking, the stop-start, stop-start…just wasn’t much fluidity to the game, I thought. Credit to them that we weren’t able to play the style that we wanted, but at the end of the day I think our quality showed.”

With the Supporters’ Shield checked off the to-do list, the Sounders are now setting their sights higher.

“I’m really proud of our group,” Schmid said. “I’m really proud of what they accomplished this year. We want to carry this spirit into the next few games here in the MLS playoffs. Obviously that’s the trophy that we haven’t gotten yet, that we want to get.”

Looking forward, both teams are back in action next weekend in the Western Conference semifinals against yet-to-be determined opponents. The Sounders will play the winner of the midweek match between the fourth and fifth seeds. The Galaxy will play either FC Dallas or Real Salt Lake. The conference semifinals are two-legged series with the lower-seeded team hosting the first match.

Here are the match highlights:

Comments

  1. I had a kind of gut reaction to the match. Perhaps putting to much into what non-league fans might take away from it. However when’s the last time a World Cup final was really a great match. Evan Champions league finals can be rough at times. Players know the refs don’t really want to send anyone off, suspensions aren’t an issue and players test every bit of that. At the end of the day Seattle provided a great atmosphere and those fans deserves every bit of the trophy.

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  2. Even without Keane in there LA looked on the verge of very dangerous. I thought Seattle did a great job and LA even better of shutting down quality offense. Seattle just made it the full 90.

    If Marshalll doens’t win Defender of the Year, it will be one of the biggest selection mistakes ever.

    It is amazing how far Soccer has come in the country….and how little some Soccer Fans.

    Hang another banner at the CLink !!!!

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  3. The worst part from this game is that fc Dallas looks like the strongest side in the west and revolution from the east, so that means revolution would host MLS cup in turf in a giant nfl Stadium.

    I just don’t see sounders or galaxy winning MLS cup.

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  4. Wow,what a boring game, very boring. Typical MLS game, no tactics or no soccer creativity. Don’t get me wrong i SUPPORT MLS but this game was boring and not a good game to impress non soccer fans and non MLS followers.

    Even more the commentators suck and don’t add drama to the game, which sounders and galaxy were being dramas queens on the field.

    Not a good game and galaxy could of easily won this or sounders could of easily won 5 to 0.

    Oh and Dempsey is becoming one if the most over paid and overrated players in MLS, along with oba, Alonso and galaxy might be terrible next season.

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  5. Fact is the sounders didn’t deserve the win. They should have been playing with 10 if not 9 men. The shoulder with the ball out of play is absolutely a straight red and he didn’t even get a yellow for it. Dempsey is showing with he isn’t in the PL anymore he did absolutely nothing for 90% of the game. Sounders were outplayed at every single position and every single part of the field

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    • And I’m pretty sure Oba kicked a cat in the tunnel, Evans left the lights on in an empty room, and Yedlin didn’t flush after using the toilet.

      Sounders had the very best record after 34 games = deserved the Supporters Shield.

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    • Perhaps you couldn’t see it from your TV set Vlad, but LA fouled Seattle hard on multiple occasions off-the-ball when Geiger was looking the other direction. LA could have easily seen players sent off too (Gargan), and I’m shocked that DeLa Garza didn’t see at least a yellow.

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    • Are you completely ignoring the numerous hard fouls by LA? Also you mention the shoulder by Martins on the corner but don’t mention De La Garza did an identical thing right before that? Come on now take the LA shades off and try to be a bit unbiased. Both teams played on the edge today and it will be interesting to see if the league does anything about the little scuffle that happened late.

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      • I agree both sides played hard, and hada hand in an ugly game. However its hard to compare a hard challenge with the ball coming and some just blindsiding someone out of spite. What AJ did was in the context of the match, Martins was just out of pure revenge.

  6. It was fantastic in the stadium afterward hearing from Drew Carey, Sigi, and Evans and seeing the players celebrate the shield with the fans. Great to see the players enjoying the moment with their kids and such. Very memorable times, and so nice to achieve silverware as a validation of all the good work the franchise has done for 6 years.

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  7. I watched the first half of that game as a neutral and I couldn’t stomach any more. There were many times I thought I was watching high school soccer. Everything that is wrong with MLS in one game. Your biggest regular season game of the year or ever sees one team rest their leading scorer. An early local start takes the crowd out of the game. Poor referee, too many fouls, not playing advantage believing fake injuries; I don’t care if he did ref in the World Cup he was terrible.

    And perhaps the busiest American sports weekend of the year is when you play this game. Football, NHL and the World Series to say nothing of El Classico and Man U vs Chelsea.

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  8. Congrats to the Sounders. Didn’t really look like either team wanted to win very much. Lots of shoving and pushing. Hard to believe that Pappa was kept on the bench again. Maybe the coach will take note of what happens when Brad Evans is on the bench. I bet these teams are gonna meet again in the playoffs. When that happens Seattle can’t afford to start Evans otherwise LA will be tough to beat.

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    • Thing is, the last two matches show what happens when Pappa comes off the bench, not what happens when he starts. In other words, if Pappa could guarantee me 2 goals every time he came off the bench, then I would never start him again.

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  9. Strange game. Not much in it for independent fans. Seattle will be excited about the win, but I can’t see it being a big confidence boost, as the 2-0 scoreline is flattering for them.

    Before cynics begin railing on the quality of play (which was poor), keep in mind that that’s often the case in deciding games. If you want proof, go back and watch the WC knockout rounds.

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    • +1 A good synopsis. Sometimes it just happens. An early goal from either side might’ve made for a better spectacle….. some games are just duds

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    • I didn’t see poor play. What I saw was great defense on both sides, which of course limits the oohs and aaahs for attackers in the highlight reel.

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      • More I step away from the match more I agree. Both teams know each other pretty well now. LA were filling the lanes they knew Seattle would try and exploit up the middle. In some ways Seattle are built to destroy and get it to those guys up front. The style just kind of cancel each other out. Still I hope we get to see a rematch in the playoffs.

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