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October 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

First impressions: Sounders 2, Galaxy 0

Marco Pappa struck twice late in the second half as the Sounders topped the Galaxy 2-0 to lift its first-ever Supporters’ Shield, given to the MLS regular-season champion, on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

Here are my first impressions:

– Seattle earned its first Shield.

Saturday’s match was a gritty slog for long stretches, but the Sounders took their chances when they came.

First, Obafemi Martins picked out Pappa with a pinpoint through ball in the 85th minute to make it 1-0. Then, in stoppage time, Pappa pounced on a defensive giveaway and finished with a cool chip to kick off the celebrations.

The defense made it through a first half without conceding for the first time in nine matches and pitched a shutout for the first time since August.

Seattle achieved its goal at the expense of a team that has had its number in recent seasons and that it could very well meet again in a few weeks’ time with an MLS Cup berth on the line. And they held their nerve down the stretch as L.A. kept closer and closer in the standings.

The Sounders also earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, plus the right to sit around and watch the fourth- and fifth-place play for their lives in the middle of the week.

Seattle only had four shots to L.A.’s 13 and managed barely 40 percent of the possession.

But that certainly didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the fans who stuck around to watch their team lift the Shield in front of their home crowd.

– It certainly wasn’t pretty

This wasn’t the first time Seattle and L.A. have met in a match with a trophy on the line – it wasn’t even the first time in a week – and if the Western Conference bracket holds, it won’t be the last.

The Sounders have talked about how there aren’t any secrets between the two teams, and neither is there much goodwill.

The opening 45 minutes were ugly, all bobbling balls and tumbling attackers, plenty of fouls and precious few scoring chances.

There were more than double the combined fouls (21) than shots (eight). Seattle didn’t manage a single one of the latter and completed just 59 percent of its passes.

The defining image of that half came 37 minutes in, when Landon Donovan earned a yellow card for his late tackle on Gonzalo Pineda. The Galaxy forward offered a hand to help his opponent up, but Pineda slapped it away.

The defining image of the second half was in the 70th, when an ugly mid-air collision ended with Clint Dempsey temporarily crumpled on the turf and pushing and shoving between both teams – maybe even a punch or two.

The teams cared little for appearances, combining for six yellow cards and 40 fouls.

– Martins makes his case for MVP

One of the many storylines in the buildup to Saturday’s match was about the head-to-head showdown between MLS Most Valuable Player candidates Martins and Robbie Keane, about how the award could come down to each player’s performance in the all-important finale.

Keane was a late scratch with what the Galaxy called a “nagging” injury. He wasn’t in the lineup, wasn’t even on the bench.

Martins was quiet for long stretches, squeezed out by L.A.’s tight ball pressure.

But when it mattered most, he played the game’s killer ball, a diagonal pass that put Pappa alone on goal late in the second half.

Each man has a strong case: Keane has the most combined goals and assists in the league (19 and 14), while Martins netted a club-record 17 goals — and dished out his 13th assist on that pass to Pappa — for the team that finished top of the table.

But only one played a role in the match that brought the Shield to Seattle for the first time.

| More in MLS, Sounders FC


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