While the Supporters’ Shield is out of reach for the playoff-bound Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, either team can avoid the knockout round with a victory in the MLS regular-season finale Sunday night in Seattle.
Los Angeles (15-11-7) lost its chance at finishing with the league’s most points after a scoreless draw with San Jose last Sunday, though it solidified the club’s record 15th postseason berth.
The Galaxy occupy third place in the Western Conference with 52 points, one more than Seattle (15-12-6), which is tied with Colorado for fourth. The teams finishing fourth and fifth will play a knockout match, with the winner advancing to play the top seed.
Los Angeles can avoid the knockout round with a victory, or even a tie as long as Colorado doesn’t win at Vancouver on Sunday evening. Anything but a victory for the Sounders will leave them no higher than fourth.
The Galaxy played Thursday but used mostly a reserve lineup in a 4-0 loss to Isidro Metapan in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Landon Donovan sat out that game after accounting for two of the Galaxy’s 12 shots last Sunday while still nursing an ankle injury.
“Well, we clinched a (playoff) spot, but we wanted more and I think we feel like we let an opportunity slip through our hands,” Donovan told the team’s official website. “I think the expectation is to make the playoffs and we had the chance to do something more.”
Los Angeles has successfully navigated different paths to win the MLS Cup each of the last two years, capturing the Supporters’ Shield in 2011 before a fourth-place finish in the West last season.
The Sounders lost to the Galaxy in the 2012 conference finals but won their home game in that series, and Los Angeles has lost its last three visits to CenturyLink Field.
Seattle feels fortunate just to be headed back to the playoffs, having lost four in a row and going winless since Sept. 13.
“It’s not ideal. We can turn it around now and win six or seven games and we’ll be happy,” goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann told the team’s official website. “Once you’re in, you’re in and nothing else matters.”
Seattle has scored no more than one goal during each leg of a six-game winless streak, including a 2-0 defeat at Dallas last Saturday.
Clint Dempsey has yet to score despite 29 shots in eight games, but the Sounders should be bolstered by leading scorer Eddie Johnson returning after missing two contests with a groin injury. Obafemi Martins, tied for second on the club with eight goals, could also return after being sidelined two games by a similar issue.
Robbie Keane has six goals and two assists in his last four games versus Seattle after posting a hat trick with an assist in a 4-0 home victory May 27. The teams played to a 1-all draw Sept. 21.
Donovan has no goals and one assist in his last nine matchups with Seattle.