Thirty-three games into a 34-game season, Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy remain even in the Major League Soccer points race.
The teams added another even 90 minutes Sunday, as the Sounders rallied from two goals down for a 2-2 draw at sold-out StubHub Center.
The tie finally will be broken and superiority settled Saturday when the teams meet in the final game of their regular seasons — this time at CenturyLink Field, which will be open to its full capacity.
A win or a draw will give the Sounders their first Supporters’ Shield. A Galaxy win would secure the club’s fifth Shield.
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“We leave with a good feeling,” Sounders forward Clint Dempsey said. “We got a point. And we go into the final knowing if we get a draw or get a win, we’ll finish on top.”
For long minutes Sunday it appeared the bar would be set higher for Seattle, as the Galaxy scored late in the first half and early in the second to go two goals up.
However, Dempsey started Seattle on its way back with his 15th goal of the season, and then Lamar Neagle got the equalizer in the 72nd minute.
“I was extremely proud of our team because we took goals at the worst possible time,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We took a goal right before halftime, we took a goal right after halftime. A little bit I think we helped on both of those goals, with just the deflection and a combination of errors on the first. But then I think we showed character.”
Los Angeles (17-6-10) got the first goal in first-half stoppage time when an attempted clearance by Seattle midfielder Brad Evans went to L.A. midfielder Baggio Husidic, who beat Stefan Frei wide from the penalty arc.
The Galaxy’s second goal came on a similar play in the 50th minute. This time it started with a corner kick that the Sounders failed to clear, and Husidic touched it on to Marcelo Sarvas, who scored over Frei from the top of the box.
Seattle (19-10-4) started its comeback in the 69th minute when DeAndre Yedlin sent a cross into the penalty area, where Obafemi Martins touched it on to Dempsey, who scored from about 8 yards.
“It was a ball played in,” Dempsey said. “Oba had a touch on it, and then (I) just put it on target, put it on frame.”
The equalizer came three minutes later, when Martins rolled a ball into the box to Neagle, who first-touched it past goalkeeper Jamie Penedo from about 10 yards.
In the 88th minute, Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez picked up his second yellow card. That forced the Galaxy to play out the game a man down. It also makes Gonzalez ineligible for the next match.
“After the first 15-20 minutes, I thought we created the better chances from then on throughout the game,” Schmid said. “We were unlucky not to get a goal from Dempsey in the first half. Oba had a couple of good looks. But then I was really proud of the character of our team being able to come back and lock it up at 2-2 and to be knocking at the door to take a win.”
The result marked a disappointing end to the final regular-season home game for MLS career goals and assists leader Landon Donovan, who was honored before and after the match.
Donovan will play his final regular-season game Saturday in Seattle.
“We don’t give up, we keep fighting, and we do have that quality,” Dempsey said. “… In the second half when we got the goals back, we were the ones that kept pushing to try and get the winner. I feel good about our team’s character and look forward to the next game.”