Clint Dempsey would end the night with 2 G & 1 A. (6G & 1A in 2014) Can he be stopped? Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sounders v. FC Dallas : 3 Points Are Bigger In Texas

Coming in to Saturday night FC Dallas were the hottest ticket in Major League Soccer.  Sporting a 4-0-1 record, scoring 13 goals (league leaders) with a +7 differential so far on the season, they were absolutely on fire.  In Dallas, the Sounders would face a balanced offense featuring five players who have scored multiple goals.  Among those were midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, who has three goals (including two game-winners) and Mauro Diaz, who has netted 2 along with assisting 3 more.  Seattle entered the match with the second-most League goals (9) but were coming off their worst defensive performance of the campaign, a 4-4 draw with rival Timbers (only salvaged due to a hat trick by Clint Dempsey).

The stage appeared to be set for FC Dallas to grab only their third win all-time over the Sounders.

Kenny Cooper (33) faced his former side FC Dallas for the first time since coming to the Emerald City.
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The match would start with the infamous Dallas weather affecting yet another goal.  At the 11th minute mark David Texeira would score on a header from inside of 10 yards off of a ball that bounced over the head of Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.  An early contender for “Gaffe Of The Year,” Frei would go on to be solid the remainder of the match, allowing only one other goal off of a Penalty Kick by Michel.  Much of Dallas’ success can be attributed to the Brazilian midfielder as he entered Saturday with two goals and an assist, all on set pieces, including a penalty kick last week against Houston.  Dallas were dominant with the wind at their backs, generating chances as Fabian Castillo would beat the Seattle defense down the left wing time and again, creating opportunities for himself and Diaz.  Leading 2-1 after the first 45, Dallas were coming on strong and were wanting to make a statement as to why they’re the most dangerous team in the West.

“In the second half, Seattle did a good job of putting us on our heels.” Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said post match.

Enter the second half and the Sounders began to turn things around.  Replacing Kenny Cooper and Lamar Neagle with Marco Pappa and “The Last Action Hero” Chad Barrett (68th & 72nd minutes respectively) paid off almost instantly.  The slick passing work and tireless control through the middle by Seattle’s midfielders would allow a hockey sock full of chances.  The Rave Green offense was awake.  An attempted cross up the right side from (who else?) Clint Dempsey would deflect off of Dallas defencmen Stephen Keel and become the equalizer in the 75th minute.  Staring down the barrel of another wild, late match comeback, the Sounders could sense the winner coming.

The decider would come in the 84th minute, when (once more, with feeling!) Clint Dempsey would work a text book “give-and-go” with T.L.A.H. Chad Barrett, finishing with a neat little pass that landed at the sweet spot of Dempsey’s feet for a point-blank tap-in.  It was all over but the cryin’ (and a 90th minute substitution, bringing Sean Okoli on for Obafemi Martins).  The whistle would blow and the Sounders would leave Frisko with all 3 points in tow.

“A lot of people said he [Dempsey] was out of form, I guess he’s put those people to rest,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.

Another win on the road.  Another late match roller coaster.  Another piece of offensive finesse from Clint Dempsey.  Deuce’s first goal came off a free kick in the 22nd minute after he fired a bending shot that landed just inside the goal line to tie it at 1.  Other than that the Sounders offense was stagnant for 45 minutes, mustering a lowly 2 shots (although both were on goal).  At the close of the first half Seattle were lucky to only be down 2-1 after possessing the ball only 41 percent, allowing 11 shots (6 on target) and conceding 6 corners.  While the match featured an alarming 38 fouls (19 by each team) and eight yellow cards (six in the first half alone), it could be argued that the flow of play was the cause of Seattle’s misfortunes.  Unable to move the ball for long before being halted the team were frustrated.  Lamar Neagle, who came on as a sub in last week’s match with Portland and was instrumental in that come-from-behind affair, looked almost lost at times.  Once Pappa & Barrett made their entrance to the match Seattle’s play seemed to open up more and created a more focused attack which would force Dallas to play the final 30min on their heels.  In fact, the Sounders wound up outshooting Dallas 11-5 (4-2 on target) in the second half.

Late winners are fun to watch, and it is still early in the season, the Sounders can’t continue to rely on Deuce to finish every time.  While it has made for exciting matches it’s a problem that needs to be solved, and soon.  GK Frei, who had a season-high six saves on the night, put it best post match :

“We’re not making it easy on ourselves. We need to fix those issues a little bit because you can’t give up three to four goals every game. But I think the games are really important for us as a show of character when you can keep your heads up and keep plugging away.”

The Sounders now hold a 3-2-1 record and slide in to a tie for 2nd place in the West.  They now head west from Texas and look to their third straight road match, taking on Chivas USA on Saturday.

Odds & Ends :

  • With five goals in two matches, Dempsey set the club record for most goals in back-to-back games.
  • Sounders MF Brad Evans was sidelined for another week as he continues to recover from a calf injury.
  • Seattle now holds an 8 – 2 – 4 record all time against FC Dallas, including US Open Cup play.
  • Eight yellow cards ties for the most in a Sounders’ game.
  • Seattle is on pace to be fouled 668 times this year (Team record: 438).


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