FC Dallas 1, Seattle Sounders 1 | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
The Seattle Sounders took a big step on Sunday toward becoming the first Supporters’ Shield winners in three years to advance out of the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T, coming from behind to draw FC Dallas 1-1 in the Western Conference semifinal first leg at Toyota Stadium.
The newly-instituted away goals rule means that Seattle will advance to the next round with a win or a scoreless draw in the Nov. 10 second leg at CenturyLink Field. Dallas will need a road win or a draw featuring at least four goals to move on to the Western Conference Championship. The series will be decided in extra time – with the possibility of penalty kicks – if the second leg ends 1-1 in regulation.
Dallas midfielder Michel opened the scoring in the 34th minute, burying his second penalty kick of the postseason after winger Andres Escobar was brought down in the box by Sounders midfielder Marco Pappa. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso equalized in the 54th, heading home a Pappa set piece to make it 1-1.
Seattle forward Obafemi Martins had an opportunity to open the scoring earlier, but wasted a big opportunity in the 18th minute. The MVP candidate took advantage of some sloppy play to burst down the seam for a one-on-one opportunity, but he uncharacteristically scuffed his shot, rolling his effort right at Dallas ‘keeper Raul Fernandez, who held with relative ease.
Referee Allen Chapman awarded Dallas their penalty in the 32nd, pointing to the spot after Pappa brought Escobar down with a sliding challenge in the right side of the box. Michel buried the ensuing spot kick, slamming it past Seattle ‘keeper Stefan Frei and inside the right post for his second successful PK of the playoffs.
Fernandez made another big stop on Martins right at the stroke of halftime, denying the Nigerian striker’s stinging shot from the left side of the area. Defender Matt Hedges cleaned up the play, racing into his own goalmouth to clear the blocked shot away from an onrushing Clint Dempsey and out of danger.
Seattle brought things level shortly after halftime. Pappa earned a measure of redemption for his PK transgression, curling in a free kick from the right side that Alonso – who had wriggled free from Dallas winger Fabian Castillo in the center of the box – nodded home inside the left post. It was the first MLS goal of 2014 for Alonso, who was held scoreless in 33 regular season appearances this year.
Neither side registered another clear look at goal until the 90th minute, when Frei came up with a huge save on Castillo to keep things level. Castillo picked the ball up on the right side near midfield, driving deep into Seattle’s third and dribbling into the box before rifling a shot that Frei punched over the bar with his left hand.
The two sides will now head to Seattle to settle the series at CenturyLink Field, with kickoff set for 10:30 pm ET on Monday, Nov. 10.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Osvaldo Alonso||Controlled the middle of the park and got the all-important equalizer, his first goal in MLS play this year.|
|2||Chad Marshall||Locked things up in the back, shutting down Dallas forward Blas Perez and repeatedly cleaning things up for a stout Sounders defense.|
|3||Zach Loyd||Combined with center back partner Matt Hedges to do a number on Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, keeping the star strikers quiet throughout.|