The Seattle Sounders played FC Dallas to a 1-1 draw last night. Stellar result for Seattle, sure we would’ve liked to see a 4-2 road thrashing like the Revs displayed, but we clearly “won” the draw.
If this was the regular season, maybe we would’ve been disappointed with only a draw at short-rested Dallas missing Mauro Diaz. In the playoffs, especially with the narrative of Seattle and two-legged series, this result was far from a disappointment. Around the league only the aforementioned New England did better as a higher seed. L.A. also drew while playing RSL Saturday, but L.A. failed to register an away goal. That changes the complexion of the entire series and slightly tilts the series in RSL’s favor. #1 seed in the East, D.C. United, straight lost 2-0 at New York. We may expect brilliance from the Rave Green, but it is refreshing to see professional, gritty results.
Results have been hard to come by for the Sounders in the postseason. Yesterday was only the second time, in Seattle’s entire playoff history, we earned a result in the first game of a two-legged series. The other being the 0-0 draw against RSL in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals (which is the only two-legged series we’ve ever won). Seattle has, as Coach Sigi Schmid likes to remind the media, always performed well in the second game. Normally it is a backs-to-the-wall, so-close-but-not-enough affair, but now we go home in the driver’s seat. Last night we performed well in the first leg, despite some Dallas gamesmanship.
Oscar Pareja is no Caleb Porter. He doesn’t care for the style of play at expense of winning. Pareja understands coaching is a results business, as Dallas played an extremely cynical game. Dallas flopped with shocking regularity. ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman pointed out that when Dallas was in the final third, their players hit the pitch every time a Sounder got within a yard of them. Sadly referee Allen Chapman bought it. Pareja knows his team scores the majority of their goals off set pieces and they did their best to manufacture (to put it lightly) those opportunities.
Dallas didn’t have to finagle their best scoring chance. The only set piece Dallas did convert was the highest percentage opportunity in the game. Dallas midman Andres Escobar earned a silly penalty from Marco Pappa as he was running himself out towards the endline. It was an easy call for Chapman and that pesky Michel converted a well-struck penalty. Luckily Pappa did redeem himself later, serving up a free kick that found Ozzie Alonso’s beautiful bald head for the equalizer. Shortly thereafter Pappa came off for defensive mid Michael Azira, and Sigi was clearly parking the bus.
Thus the series comes home next Monday night, as the Seattle “Ain’t Got No Quit” Sounders find themselves in yet another “most important game of the season.” I got my tickets and can’t wait for gameday.