Mission accomplished. After talking all week about simply needing to manage the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals, the Seattle Sounders did just that and will head home in good position. The Sounders got a second-half goal from Osvaldo Alonso and settled for a 1-1 tie on Sunday.
FC Dallas struck first when the Sounders conceded a pretty poor penalty. After mostly effectively absorbing whatever pressure FC Dallas could muster -- and actually holding them without a shot to that point -- Pappa made a questionable decision to go to ground after Andres Escobar got past him in the penalty area. Although the ball looked to be going out, Pappa took down Escobar and gave the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Frei guessed right on Michel's shot, but couldn't save it as FC Dallas took a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute.
The Sounders, though, were creating chances and it only seemed a matter of time before they found a goal. Obafemi Martins had two of those, once getting behind the Dallas defense for a one-on-one chance, only to put in a poor effort that Raul Fernandez saved easily. Martins had another good look just moments before halftime, cutting back and forcing Fernandez to make a leaping save. The shot actually got beyond Fernandez, but Matt Hedges was able to clear the spinning ball before Clint Dempsey could pounce on the rebound.
The equalizer came in the 54th minute as Pappa made up for his earlier gaffe by placing a perfect free kick into the goal box where Alonso redirected into the net. It marked the third postseason goal Alonso has scored and ended a scoreless run in MLS competition that had stretched back to last year's playoffs.
The Sounders were mostly able to manage the game from that point, rarely threatening goal, but also doing a good job of keeping Dallas from getting clean looks. At least until the 90th minute. That's when Fabian Castillo streaked past Leo Gonzalez and got an open look inside the penalty area. But Frei was up to the task, making a leaping save and preserving the tie.
The added bonus for the Sounders is Dallas will need to score at least one goal in Nov. 10's second leg with the away-goal tiebreaker now in effect.