Sounders boost confidence

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comSeptember 23, 2013 

Sounders defender Zach Scott , right, helped keep the high-scoring Galaxy under wraps in a 1-1 draw Saturday.

GARY A. VASQUEZ/USA TODAY SPORTS

CARSON, CALIF. — Two of the Seattle Sounders’ trips to the MLS playoffs have taken them through Los Angeles, and each of those ended at the hands of the Galaxy.

If the clubs cross paths again this postseason, the Sounders say they will benefit from the 1-1 draw they earned Saturday at StabHub Center.

“If you’re looking at playoffs, you have to be about getting something on the road and then come back home and take care of business,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “So, if this was a first playoff game and we’re here on the road it would be good for us. It’s just a matter that they guys know this was one of those roll-your-sleeves-up-type games. They also know it wasn’t our best game, but we still were able to manage.”

The result provided a dose of confidence that the Sounders could use, as it represented their first road point against the Galaxy since 2011.

And the Seattle defense took particular pride in shutting out Robbie Keane, who is fourth in Major League Soccer with 13 goals.

“We feel like with as much quality as that team has, he’s really the engine driving that team,” Zach Scott said. “So if Jhon (Kennedy Hurtado) and I could do a good job of silencing him, hopefully their opportunities would come few and far between.”

Both clubs were without players who are important to their postseason hopes. Los Angeles forward Landon Donovan was held out due to an ankle injury, and Seattle forward Clint Dempsey was left home after suffering a hamstring injury in training last week.

“Hopefully, (Dempsey) will be back for the New York game (Sunday in Seattle), Schmid said. “He is getting treatment in Seattle right now, so we will check on Tuesday and see where he is at, then monitor him the rest of the week.”

Aside from the Dempsey injury, the Sounders are assembling most of the key pieces they hope to have for their run at MLS Cup. Midfielder Brad Evans returned from a calf injury for his first action this month. Midfielder Steve Zakuani was on the game-day roster for the first time since April. And midfielder Adam Moffat made his Sounders debut off the bench.

“It can be a bit of an adjustment,” Moffat said. “There were a few things ... you just kind of get used to the more you play. Hopefully that will come with the more minutes I play. It would be great to win the Supporters’ Shield. I’ve won it twice with Columbus, so to come to a team at this part of the year is a good time. The team is doing great.”

The Supporters’ Shield would give Seattle home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But the first two rounds are aggregate-score, home-and-away series, so they know they might return to Los Angeles, which knocked them out of the 2010 and 2012 playoffs.

“Some places just are harder to play at, and it seems like L.A. is like that for us,” Scott said. “But I think we’re in a spot right now where we’ve built a good base as a team. We know what we want to do defensively: keep teams to as few chances as possible. And with the quality that we have up front, we’re going to get a goal.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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