BY: Karen Watson

SEATTLE –  The Sounders gave a sluggish performance against the Philadelphia Union in front of a 48th consecutive sell out home crowd, eventually losing 2-0 in their first shut out since August 13.

Seattle needed a win to stay alive in the Supporter’s Shield race but with only a few weeks left in the regular season it seems that the LA Galaxy have clinched that title for a second straight year. The Sounders also needed a win to secure a firm hold on second place in the Western Conference. Two regular season MLS games remain, giving Real Salt Lake a small opportunity to catch up to the Rave Green on points, although Seattle has a ten goal lead for the tie breaker. They head the MLS with 51 goals on the season.

Pre-match it was lining up to be a defensive battle, with the visitors only allowing 34 goals this season and Seattle’s back four in top form.  Philadelphia dominated on possession throughout the game and didn’t allow Seattle many chances, keeping them off the ball and winning most of the 50/50s. “It’s not always going to be pretty, sometimes you have to fight for the right to play,” commented Sounder’s defender James Riley.

With only two shots on goal in the first forty-five, Brad Evans had the best chance in the 36’ when he connected with a pass from Lamar Neagle and caught Union goal keeper Zac Macmath off his line, but lofted the ball to high and it went sailing into the crowd.

The Sounders seemed to be suffering from an endorphin hangover after Tuesday’s historic US Open Cup three peat, not really finding their passing rhythm until the second half. It was Evans again with another terrific opportunity in the 52’ on a chip towards open goal but the ball just grazed the bar, leaving the Sounders still frustrated.

Philadelphia continued to apply pressure and were rewarded in the 60’ when former teen prodigy Fredy Adu got the better of Sounders’ keeper Kasey Keller. The shot was set up by Union defender Gabriel Farfan, sending a cross thru the center to Adu who hammered it high over Keller’s head. The Union got some insurance in the 70’on a breakaway by Brian Carroll, assisted by former Sounder Sebastian LeToux.

Two goals down, Seattle started to come alive late in the second half but it was just too late and they weren’t able to turn their scoring chances into goals. Osvaldo Alonso had a crack in the 76’ on a free kick but it went just left of goal. Later Neagle had a chance in the 82’, threading thru the Union defense but he just couldn’t keep the ball down and it soared over the cross bar.

With this win, Philadelphia leapfrogged Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Sounders next MLS match is against San Jose at home on October 15th, which will also be team captain Kasey Keller’s last regular home game before he retires at the end of the season.

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