MIAMI (AP) – The Seattle Sounders are still hopeful they can win the Supporters' Shield. Although they have only a tenuous hold on the final playoff spot, D.C. United are just as optimistic about their own postseason chances despite losing a key player.
Seattle hosts an injury-plagued D.C. team on Saturday night, trying to avoid a second straight loss in the series.
The Sounders (13-6-9) are seven points behind Los Angeles for the best record in the MLS, but they didn't help their cause with a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last Saturday. The defeat snapped a six-game home undefeated streak.
Freddy Montero scored his team-leading seventh goal in first-half stoppage time to tie the game, but Salt Lake countered early in the second half.
"Everybody is still catchable," coach Sigi Schmid told the MLS' official website. "This league is always a streaky league, so for us now it's just a matter of ... we've got to get back after it and take care of business the way we want to."
The Sounders will try to bounce back in league play after they won 2-1 at Costa Rican club Herediano in a CONCACAF Champions League game on Wednesday.
Schmid is optimistic in part because of the increased production from Montero, who has four goals and three assists in his last eight league games. He also scored both goals at Herediano, including the eventual match-winner in the 54th minute.
"He is hitting a good streak and we need him to hit a good streak," Schmid said.
D.C. (8-7-10) is also looking for leadership. It will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after losing midfielder Chris Pontius to a broken right leg in a 3-0 win over Chivas last Saturday.
Chris Davies ended a six-match goalless drought with a hat trick, but excitement over the win was tempered by news that Pontius will likely miss the rest of the season after being injured in a collision in the second half. He had assisted on all three of Davies' goals.
Pontius started all 25 of United's games this season, totaling seven goals and five assists.
"It's always tough when you lose a player like Chris, but we are very deep in the midfield," assistant coach Chad Ashton said. "We have several viable options to help pick up the slack, we have the depth to succeed."
However, D.C. has little room for error. It holds a one-point lead over New York and Portland for the final wild-card spot, but does have two games in hand on both teams.
That's not the only injury concern the team has. Defender Dejan Jakovic and goalkeeper Bill Hamid have been bothered by hamstring injuries, with Jakovic questionable and Hamid probable.
Despite a depleted roster, the team's expectations haven't lessened.
"We want to be in the top three, forget the wild card," Davies said. "We just got to keep it going and make sure we stay healthy, that's the biggest thing."
Davies scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 win over Seattle on May 4.