Most of the 66,216 fans who showed up to CenturyLink Field on Sunday didn’t stick around for Sounders FC’s celebration of Fan Appreciation Day.
Seattle had just blown a lead to settle for a 1-1 tie in the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Galaxy, extending a winless streak to seven games, second longest in franchise history.
The result means the Sounders (15-12-7, 52 points) will be the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and host No. 5 Colorado in a play-in game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. A win would have secured a direct berth to the conference semifinals, but coach Sigi Schmid, microphone in hand, promised it would happen as he addressed the fans afterward.
“We’re going to defeat Colorado,” he said.
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Confidence remains, even after another disappointing result.
The Galaxy leveled the game in the 78th minute when a bouncing shot by star forward Robbie Keane just eluded a diving Michael Gspurning in goal. Keane has scored seven times against the Sounders in the past 12 months.
The goal held up and gave Los Angeles (15-11-8, 53 points) the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, where it will face No. 2 Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinals.
No. 1 Portland awaits the winner of the Seattle-Colorado game, and some Sounders are already looking forward to the prospects of the rivalry playing out on the big stage.
“I’ve been thinking about it: I’d rather play Portland, to be honest,” said Brad Evans, like his coach not afraid to look ahead.
Defender DeAndre Yedlin added: “I think that’s going to be a big motivation for us, being able to play Portland and give our fans a reason to talk (trash).”
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 30th minute when superstar Clint Dempsey got on the end of a cross from Lamar Neagle at the far post and skillfully volleyed it in with the outside of his foot.
The goal ended the superstar’s 590-minute drought with Seattle since his heralded return to MLS, and he tapped his wrist in celebration as if to say, “It’s about time.”
The team’s scoreless drought ended at 230 minutes and the Sounders took their first lead in five games, but it wouldn’t last, even if it survived controversy in the 42nd minute.
The play in question started when Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez appeared to head in an equalizer. The ball was cleared out of the goal by Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso, but replays showed it was undoubtedly over the line.
L.A. players and coaches protested the non-call by assistant referee Greg Barkley, but play carried on. Referees declined to comment after the game due to a technicality (the pool reporter’s name was not properly displayed in their locker room).
“I was told it was about a yard over the line,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “For some reason, I think we should be able to see that one. We’re fortunate to get out of it, not using that as a major sticking point in the game.”
The eventual equalizer dropped Seattle to 7-0-1 in front of home crowds bigger than 50,000.
The turnout was the third largest for an MLS game for the Sounders and fourth largest for a stand-alone in league history. Seattle’s average attendance of 44,038 and total attendance of 748,652 were more than double that of the next best team: L.A. at 21,770 and 370,084, respectively.
Schmid had another message for the fans: “Keep the faith, and come back Wednesday.”
• Playoff tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.
• The Sounders used their 33rd different lineup in 34 regular-season games. Gspurning returned to the lineup after a two-game benching and made five saves. Seattle used 30 combinations in 2012.
|MLS playoffs matchups|
|The New York Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield and own the top seed throughout the playoffs.|
|Western Conference semifinals|
|No. 1 Portland vs.Play-in game winner|
|No. 2 Real Salt Lake vs. No. 3 Los Angeles|
|No. 4 Seattle||No. 5 Colorado|
|Eastern Conference semifinals|
|No. 1 New York vs.Play-in game winner|
|No. 2 Sporting Kansas City vs. No. 3 New England|
|No. 4 Houston||No. 5 Montreal|
|Note: The MLS Cup will be Dec. 7 on ESPN.|
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.