The Seattle Sounders were officially eliminated from contention for the Supporters Shield after the Philadelphia Union combined a strong defensive performance and effective counter-attacking play to pick up a 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders were clearly missing the creative influence of Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez; despite managing to consistently work their way into good attacking positions the Sounders didn't manage to produce many chances. When those chances were there they weren't converted; Brad Evans had an open net in the 36th minute and skied the finish well over the bar. Evans had a better effort in the 52nd minute after receiving the ball unmarked at the top of the box with the keeper off his line, but his well-taken chip struck the underside of the bar.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, made the most of their few opportunities. The Union relied on their solid back line to keep Seattle from getting looks and used their speed in the attack to spring dangerous counters; both goals came on the break, the first after Gabriel Farfan beat James Riley into the box and slid the ball to Freddy Adu in space who roofed the ball into Kasey Keller's net. The dagger was set up by Sebastien Le Toux, the former Sounder splitting the defense in space and sliding a perfect through ball to Brian Carroll who beat Keller at the far post. It was an impressive performance for a Union team that has shaken off a mid-season slump to find themselves back on top in the Eastern Conference.
For the Sounders, it's a game they'd likely prefer to forget. Mauro Rosales should be seeing the field again soon and Alvaro Fernandez was cleared to play and in the 18 this evening. There is some concern over the fitness of Jeff Parke after the defender was forced to leave the game at half time due to a concussion, but with three weeks between now and the start of the playoffs there's little reason to worry about his availability for the post season. The bigger worry is that the flatness from this performance carries over into future games and that the Sounders enter the playoffs mired in a slump. But the odds are far better that, missing the three most important figures in their attack, Seattle just had an off night. And unless the Galaxy end up losing out, this loss is likely to end up being fairly inconsequential. A frustrating loss? Certainly. But no reason to panic just yet.