The Galaxy rode into Texas on the wave of a 10-game unbeaten streak, with hopes of forcing the Sounders to play from behind in the neck-and-neck race for the Supporters' Shield. After Stefan Ishizaki did an admirable Marco Pappa impression with his chipped goal in the 22nd minute, the paths to glory for the Sounders seemed likely to be cut down to two: Win out against LA, or win one match and split points in the other.
But goals from David Texeira and Fabian Castillo put the Toros in front, and thanks to a stout defensive effort led by Matt Hedges, they held on for the victory.
The PNW/SoCal 60-point stalemate continues, but the Sounders' play so far this season has granted them a very important piece in the chess match: the games-won tiebreaker. And thus, the routes to Seattle's first piece of Major League Soccer hardware are more varied and more favorable.
What are those paths, you might ask? Here's how the Sounders can win the Shield:
First, win in LA. It's that simple. Take the fight to StubHub and win it outright with a single victory in enemy territory. The last game of the season would become a 90-minute party.
Second, tie the Galaxy in Carson, then beat the Gal's the next week in Seattle.
Third, a draw in both games would also mean Seattle wins the Shield on the tiebreaker. Now we're playing with fire.
Fourth, lose the game at LA, leaving the final game of the regular season as the winner-takes-all Supporters' Shield match. Good for TV ratings, perhaps, but bad for Sounders fans' nerves.
That fourth scenario, on paper, may be the most likely. Defending CenturyLink against the other best team in the league would be no simple task, but clinching the Shield here in Seattle would be a fitting way to prove without a doubt which team belongs on top in 2014.
FC Dallas did every fan of the Sounders a favor tonight. No one likes to depend on another team's results, but with the final whistle in Frisco setting up a home-and-home for all the marbles between the good guys and the bad guys, everything just seems right in the universe again.