Playoffs can lead to ugly soccer. High winds can lead to ugly soccer. And while the way it happened may actually be ugly, the result is a thing of beauty. Seattle Sounders FC came back after giving up the first goal, again. They found a new path to the 1-1 draw. Osvaldo Alonso's head scored the drawing goal. Marco Pappa's service made up for his earlier defensive error.
That defensive error put FC Dallas ahead.
The victory matrix isn't complex. In leg two Dallas will need to score at least once to win. If they play to a draw they will need to score twice. Unlike seasons past Seattle does not need a massive comeback to advance two the Western Conference Finals. A boring zero-zero would be good enough. Any win is a series win. Another one-one goes to extra time.
November 10th should be fun. FCD can not just sit back in a shell. That's what a one-one on the road means. That's what all of the forward looking quotes emphasize.
DAL - Michel (PK) 34
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (Marco Pappa) 54
FC Dallas - Raul Fernandez, Moises Hernandez, Matt Hedges, Zach Loyd, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tesho Akindele, Victor Ulloa, Michel, Andres Escobar (David Texeira 86), Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Walker Zimmerman, Kellyn Acosta, Jair Benitez, Peter Luccin, Ryan Hollingshead, David Texeira.
Total Shots: 7 (Michel 4) Shots on Goal: 5 (Michel 3); Fouls: 11 (Matt Hedges, Moises Hernandez and Victor Ulloa 2); Offsides: 1 (Andres Escobar 1); Corners: 6 (Michel 6); Saves: 7 (Raul Fernandez 7).
Seattle Sounders FC - Stephan Frei, DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Kenny Cooper 65), Osvaldo Alonso, Marco Pappa (Michael Azira 72), Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Jalil Anibaba, Aaron Long, Dijimi Traore, Chad Barrett.
Total Shots: 12 (Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey 3); Shots on Goal: 8 (Clint Dempsey 3); Fouls: 15 (Leondardo Gonzalez, Clint Dempsey 3); Offsides: 1 (Clint Dempsey 1); Corners: 3 (Brad Evans 2); Saves: 4 (Stephan Frei 4).
SEA - Leo Gonzalez (caution) 74
Referee: Allen Chapman
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Paul Scott
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear, 61 degrees
FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja
Opening thoughts on the game...
It was a very good game from our end. I think it was one of the best ones of the season in terms of the energy, the discipline and the urgency that we had for many sequences of the game. The series is open - it's the first 90 and it's a tie. We'll go to Seattle and try to see what we can do.
In the first half we dominated and the second half I think it was the same. I didn't remember too many parts of the game where we struggled in the back. We did very well and we've always had the initiative to create and go up front. That's something that we've preached all year; to have a team that always has that initiative to go and attack. Even though we're a team in transition in many parts of the season, this was one of those games where we moved the ball pretty well. I'm impressed with what this group of players showed - they showed today, nationally, that we're not just a playoff team, but a team that can play against anyone.
Part of our philosophy is to try to create a sense of inclusion. I think that with Chris and Raul, it has been very balanced. Both of them have had a very good season and stepping up when it was needed. Tonight it was Raul.
On missing Mauro Diaz tonight...
It's hard to say how a game would have turned out with a different person. What I have to say is that the players that were on the field today did a great job. The way I read it and the way I see it, I thought that the people that were on the field today were the right ones. For some reason during the season it happened many times that there was an injury or a suspension, but this team is not afraid to play anyone. We have a sense of inclusion here, we're part of this program.
Could it have been different with Mauro? It could have always been different when you have that talent there by him, but I don't think too much about that. I don't think about what I don't have. Tonight we had this group of players and they did an excellent job. Now we have Mauro back and we'll see how we prepare for the next one.
Do you feel like you're going to Seattle with nothing to lose?
We always want a win. We always teach and preach to this group of players that we're not less than anyone here. I have heard many times that Seattle is the best team in the league and they have achieved two trophies this year and that's the club that everyone is expecting to win it, but we'll see. Not that we can't do it - I know that we can do it. This group of players can do it. In that locker room believe in that - maybe in the league they think differently, but we'll be ready for the next game on Monday. We showed today that it's a challenge for them also to face FC Dallas.
That tells me that this group is learning that in this game it's very unusual to play without pain. It's normal - today I had four players who came out to the field with some sort of pain. The youngsters need to understand that at the professional level you normally play with pain. Victor [Ulloa] was close to not playing this game, but he came through and he played one of his best games. He showed himself that pro level is different.
FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd
On the penalty awarded to FC Dallas...
I saw Andres [Escobar] make a very good move, one-on-one on the flank. He gave Seattle problems all night long. He is really quick and crafty in the box. From my view 60-yards back, leaving your feet in the box is dangerous. Anytime you leave your feet in the box you always have the risk of conceding a penalty. The referee decided it was a penalty and Michel did a very good job taking it. Michel is money from the spot. He is solid. He has not missed one penalty this year.
What approach the team needs to take into the next game in Seattle...
I don't think we need to do anything different. We came out and played very well. We created a lot of chances. For a majority of the game, we dictated the flow and put a lot of pressure on them. It is unfortunate that we didn't come away with a better result. With that mentality and work rate going into Seattle, we can come away with a victory.
FC Dallas defender Moises Hernandez
Overall thoughts on the game...
It was a very tough game and it was not easy at all...We did well and we created our chances. We feel good and we have not lost in the playoffs. We are going to go to Seattle with a lot of confidence.
On going to Seattle to play the second leg...
We did well today, we're going to go to Seattle and do the same thing we did today. We're going to put a lot of pressure on Seattle, eventually the goals are going to come. We have to keep it at zero in the back. If we keep it to zero our attack is going to score goals. We are going to go into Seattle very confident.
Overall thoughts about Seattle's attacking front...
We did well today even though we gave up a goal. We had a tight mark on [Obafemi] Martins, on [Clint] Dempsey... All of Seattle's attacking players. We're going to do the same thing at Seattle, but do it even better.
FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges
On his goal line clearance at the end of the first half...
He stopped the first shot but he needed some help. Fortunately, I was there to help him out.
Did you think Seattle bunkered in after they got their goal?
A little bit. They were taking a little more time on their throw-ins and goal kicks. They were still playing though. You could tell [Clint] Dempsey and [Obafemi] Martins were trying to get another goal on the counter attack. So they weren't sitting in too much... It was just that when they got the chance to let the clock run a little bit, they were going to take advantage of it.
On holding Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in check...
They have a good connection so we knew that when one of them gets the ball, they are immediately looking for the other one. Keeping that in mind made us pretty successful. They're looking to play together all the time, so we just tried to take that away from them.
On playing in Seattle...
We went there last time and we were winning by a goal. It took two late goals by them to beat us but that shows that we can definitely play there and get a result there.
Is the pressure back on Seattle because they are the No. 1 seed?
They got their away goal. That was big for them but I think we can go there and score goals. We showed that we can score goals everywhere this season. We can do it again.
On giving up a goal to Seattle at home...
The most frustrating part was that we held [Clint] Dempsey and [Obafemi] Martins in check but gave up a set piece goal to Osvaldo Alonso. After tonight's result, I expect more of the same game in Seattle. It's going to be a close game, a physical game, like it was tonight. Both teams will possess the ball for stretches and attack one another. It's what everyone wants to see and it's probably what will end up happening.
Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid
On tonight's game...
We're happy with the result. We talked about making sure that in game one we put ourselves in a position to win it in game two, and we've always done a good job of being at home in a second game, and winning the second game. We defended a little more than we would have liked. They (FC Dallas) had a little more possession and played with a lot of energy, but on the same token, when you really look at clean chances, I thought we had as many, if not, more clean chances. If Oba(femi Martins) scores the breakaway early in the game in the first half, that changes the whole complexion of the game. I was very proud of the professionalism of our display in the second half and scoring the equalizing goal.
On his team's reaction to going down a goal...
I thought we reacted very well. I think that's the change in the maturity of the team. It's taken a while for us to get there. Generally when we've knocked ourselves out of the playoff round, it's been in the first game and that was something we talked about an awful lot. At halftime we said 'We're okay as long as we don't give up another goal. We're okay. We'll get one.' I thought we could get two and we were close to getting two, as well, in the second half.
On Marco Pappa giving up the penalty and assisting on Seattle's goal...
He was able to fight through it. Obviously, with the penalty kick, you can't leave your feet there, but it happens. Escobar is a quick guy and he (Pappa) was trying to help the team out and trying to defend. Then he hits a good free kick and sets up the goal for us. We talked at halftime that we felt we could get a goal off a free kick or corner if we had good service.
On managing time of possession...
We knew they would come out with a lot of energy. As I always say, games take on their own life. We felt we could possess the ball and get through, but for some reason, they were pressuring us a lot, and they had a lot of possession so we were really on our heels. I think it took us the first 20 minutes and then we started to play a little bit, but even in that time period we were close to breaking on opportunities to counter. The plan wasn't to sit back and counter, but the plan was to sit back and see what they bring us.
On a 1-1 final with away goals carrying weight now...
We still need to win at home. We definitely don't want to get a 2-2 tie at home, but having an away goal certainly helps. It means they (FC Dallas) know in order for them to come out with anything in Seattle they've got to win the game and if they're not going to win the game, they've got to get two goals. It puts a little more pressure on them, to a certain extent, but I know we'll play better being at home and playing in front of our crowd is a good thing for us.
On a 1-1 draw on the road...
Pleased with the 1-1 draw, especially going down a goal on a penalty kick and then coming back and equalizing, we're happy with that.
Seattle Sounders defender Zach Scott
On Chad Marshall's performance...
It's been the same thing all year. We're a different team when Chad is on the field. He provides that calming presence. It seemed like Dallas was maybe a little more direct than we expected them and that kind of plays into our strengths. We'll win those headers and play strong in the back, be stingy and come away with a good result tonight.
On Stefan Frei's 89th minute save...
I knew that ball was going upper corner. It went between my legs and I was watching it go upper corner and I saw his hand come out of nowhere. He was not only good on that save, but he came out for a ton of crosses today, and I told him after the game this was by far his best game. It's been kind of a steady progression with him as the year's gone on that he's been better and better and better and you can see that, but it's building with him and it gives us defenders that much more confidence know that he's going to come up and back us up on anything that gets over our heads.
On the penalty call against Marco Poppa...
Especially when it's a bunch of nonsense when the guy kicks the ball straight out of bounds and then Marco maybe gets a piece of him. I don't know, I thought it was a terrible call. I thought Marco handled it well because he came right out and he helped possess the ball for us, which we needed, and he was vital in the result.
Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei
On tonight's game...
It was a tricky game, to be honest. The wind and the field were very difficult to play on, to judge balls on the ground and in the air, so it was a difficult game. I'm happy with the way we fought back. I was able to make a couple of saves and help my teammates out with coming out on some of those crosses. I'm happy with that, but more importantly we set ourselves up for a good game at home. I think we fancy our chances at home. We compete better than we did today and with the 12th Man behind us in the next game, I think we'll be able to do that.
On what he saw during his 89th minute save...
At first I didn't see much. I thought Zach (Scott) did a really good job of showing him (Castillo) out wide. Getting him to an angle where it was impossible to shoot, and somehow, Castillo got the shot off from there and somehow squirted it under Zach's leg or something like that and I was just trying to stay balanced and ready to explode and that's what I was able to do. I was lucky and able to get a good reaction out of it and make the save.
His thoughts on giving up the first goal...
Disappointed. They had the better of the playmaking in the first half, but we limited them to very, very few dangerous chances. I thought we did quite well and I was a bit disappointed to give that goal away. We've been in so many situations like that so many times and no reason to get your head down and start moping. I think we know we have quality on the team and spirit and character to fight back, and that's what we showed today. The away goal is huge and the tie so we're ok with the performance and the result today.