Saturday was about as bad a day as Sounders FC could have in Major League Soccer.
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.
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’ 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 Wondolowski’s league-leading 22nd goal of the season.
The Sounders and Earthquakes meet in an MLS Reserve League match at 2 p.m. today at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The Sounders return to MLS play at 6 p.m. Saturday at Vancouver.email@example.com 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt