Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas Recap: Swagger

Seattle Sounders FC exorcised a lingering demon from last season’s late swoon, beating FC Dallas 3-2 in another high-scoring affair.

Halloween came early in October 2013 for a humbled Sounders team. After climbing atop the Supporter’s Shield race, Seattle had lost three straight on an aggregate 10-2 score line, but were travelling to Frisco, Texas to face a losing and listless FC Dallas. Dallas, winless in their last five games, looked the team to cure what ailed the Sounders. Instead the Hoops played a stellar game and sank Seattle two-nil.

Seattle has had a choppy beginning to 2014, while Dallas has had their best start yet at 4-0-1. Proven coach Oscar Pareja was back in Big D, and Dallas was looking to beat the mighty Sounders to prove their mettle. Captain America had other plans.

Windy and chippy, the first half Saturday was ugly. Dallas threw wave after wave of attack, and again, Seattle’s defensive shape was wanting. Seattle was frustrated, as multiple players picked up pointless yellow cards, and Dallas took a goal advantage into the break.

Seattle fans were left squirming in their seats for the second week in a row.  Despite taking commanding possession of the game in the second half, Seattle had nothing to show for it. I was afraid we’d leave Frisco pointless, as the 2013 Sounders were famous for too-little-too-late end game flurries. However this year is different and this team gets results. It takes grit and swagger to not let the scoreboard distract you. The Sounders played the second half with the confidence and quality to both equalize and eventually score the winner.

*****

Okay, I’ll stop playing around in sportswriter voice (though that was fun).

In earnestness, winning ugly is an important characteristic of champions. Seattle again did not have things in hand until late, but got the job done. It is way too early to be talking about “champions,” as Clint Dempsey’s post-game interviews will prove. But the Sounders are a healthy 1.65 points-per-game clip, and are playing like a top-quality team.

I want to say the defense played great. The hop over Frei was a freak, freak moment, and only the PK was on the defense. Dallas had us under so much pressure that we cracked. You put a team to siege and even if you don’t nail the goal from the run of play, you’ll either force an own goal or a penalty. However Dallas coulda, shoulda, woulda finished many opportunities, as miscommunications between Seattle’s midfield and backline persisted. Jermain Defoe or Robbie Keane are much more ruthless and efficient finishers than Fabian Castillo or David Texeira.  Like I discussed Friday on Sounders Nation, Seattle needs to eliminate sloppy and superfluous backpasses, and reconsider the defensive shape when transitioning.

Offensively we were brilliant. Clint Dempsey is a man on fire and he’s igniting Obafemi Martins, Marco Pappa, and Chad Barrett. Seattle has a roster of goal dangerous players, men who can score and believe they will. That swagger was the biggest difference between our last two games in Texas. Oh what a difference a year a makes.

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