All Sounders FC needed to clinch its second trophy of the year was a draw on its home field. It appeared as if that result was forthcoming, but Marco Pappa entered the match and provided a fitting ending to Seattle’s memorable regular season.
Pappa’s pair of goals in the final five minutes of Saturday’s clash with the LA Galaxy sealed a first-place finish for the Sounders and the club’s first MLS Supporters’ Shield. It was the third Shield won by Head Coach Sigi Schmid, who recognizes how much his club has accomplished in its short tenure of MLS play.
“At the end of the day, I think the Shield is another feather in the cap of our organization,” Schmid said after the match. “I think people forget that we’re still a very young organization. We’re only six years in, and now we’ve won four Open Cups and a Supporters’ Shield. That’s five trophies in six years. …I think it’s a reflection of our consistency.”
The Shield is certainly a reflection of consistency in a 34-match season, one in which the Sounders became the first MLS team to win 20 games since 1999.
Pappa was one of a half dozen Seattle players to score six or more goals this season. For the first goal of Saturday’s 2-0 win, he received a perfect through ball from Obafemi Martins, who strengthened his case for 2014 Volkswagen MLS MVP with his 13th assist as LA’s Robbie Keane sat out with an injury.
“We’ve played together for many games. Not only with Oba, but in general with the team, we understand each other more,” Pappa said. “I think we learned from the 34 games, and now we’re ready for the playoffs.”
Pappa is one of several additions to the roster from the past couple of years that had the Sounders envisioning the Shield coming to Seattle. Now they have a chance to do something even more special: the first-ever treble of a U.S. Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield, and MLS Cup in the same year.
Thanks to Saturday’s win, the Sounders would have the chance to lift another trophy in front of their home fans at CenturyLink Field if they reach the MLS Cup Final.
“I’m really proud of our group,” Schmid said. “…We’ll enjoy it today and tomorrow. Then it’s back to work.”