Seattle Sounders FC are unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions. In this one, without the availability of the full squad and without playing a pretty or perfect game, the team did what was necessary to get their noses in front at home in this two-leg series.
When FC Dallas executed the perfect counter to open the scoring with an away goal, flashbacks of the Sounders being blown out in the first legs of playoffs came unpleasantly to mind. But then Seattle settled in, and looked determined to make this a home win. Andreas Ivanschitz seems to really be enjoying these high stakes games. His hard work on both sides of the ball was of course rewarded when he burst past the Dallas back line to bury a perfectly-placed shot at the far post.
And then there's Clint Dempsey, who chose a good moment to finally score on a gorgeous free kick and turn an acceptable home result into a good one. Although the injury situation is still in flux, Deuce's goal allows the Sounders to go down to Dallas with a bit more confidence.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 - FC Dallas 1
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistants: Brian Poeschel, Philippe Briere
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer
Weather: Cloudy and 52 degrees
DAL - Fabian Castillo (Mauro Diaz) 18'
SEA - Andreas Ivanschitz 67'
SEA - Clint Dempsey 86'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Zach Scott - captain, Chad Marshall, Oniel Fisher; Marco Pappa (Nelson Valdez 62'), Andy Rose, Erik Friberg (Cristian Roldan 76'), Andreas Ivanschitz (Micheal Azira 90'); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
Substitutes not used: Troy Perkins, Chad Barrett, Jimmy Ockford, Gonzalo Pineda
Total shots: 14 (Dempsey/Martins, 3)
Shots on goal: 7 (3 players tied at 2
Shots on goal: 7 (3 players tied at 2
Fouls: 13 (Valdez, 3)
Offside: 2 (Martins, 2)
Corner-kicks: 3 (Ivanschitz, 2)
Saves: 3 (Frei, 3)
FC Dallas - Jesse Gonzalez; Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges - captain, Ryan Hollingshead; Michael Barrios, Ezequiel Cirigliano, Victor Ulloa, Fabian Castillo; Mauro Diaz, David Texeira(Tesho Akindele 71')
Substitutes not used: Dan Kennedy, Atiba Harris, Moises Hernandez, Michel, Blas Perez, Walker Zimmerman
Total shots: 10 (Castillo, 4)
Shots on goal: 4 (4 players tied at 1)
Fouls: 14 (Ulloa/Texeira, 3)
Offside: 3 (Castillo, X)
Corner-kicks: 2 (Diaz, 2)
Saves: 5 (Gonzalez, 5)
SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
"I am very proud of our team. The effort these guys put in - three games in a week. We scored eight goals in those three games. I think the guys have put in a masterful effort...I was very happy with our team, our effort. Obviously it was a wonderful free kick goal and a great goal by [Andreas] Ivanschitz."
On Clint Dempsey and Ivanschitz deciding who takes the free kick:
"They talk about it - they are good pros. I think Clint said, ‘I got this one, I feel it.' That's when you're really good at it. The best tandem I ever had was really good saying, ‘You know what, I can feel it today.' There are days when you feel it and there are days that you don't, and obviously Clint felt it - it was a tremendous free kick."
On winning three matches since last Sunday:
"I think it says a lot about our character; it says a lot about the team; it says a lot about the guys, knowing this is the moment [and] this is the time to step up. It also says something about our fitness levels. I think our training was appropriate - we really gave them a chance to recover and do things [to] individualize a lot at training...In terms of character, I think it says a ton."
On the importance of a home win:
"We talked during the week that we wanted to get a win at home and get a tie there if we can. That puts us through. So we've got the win at home part, but we just got to get a result there. If we get a result there we'll be good."
On where the club has improved:
"We're trying to be on the front foot...One of the things we've really emphasized from the time we went through the losing streak on is to be better at our free kick defending. Our corner kick defending and our free kick defending has been good. Also, to make use of our set pieces, and that's where Andreas has helped us. If you look at it, today we had another set piece goal. We had a set piece goal against LA Galaxy, as well. Those are goals that - when games are tight - sometimes make a difference."
On the offensive gameplan:
"When you're in the middle of that and there's all kinds of bodies flying around, you're trying to make instinct decisions. I am not going to second guess them at this stage. It's something we work on all the time - we say, ‘Hey when you get this position, let's make sure we shoot.' We talked about taking a lot of shots because he is a young goalkeeper. [We wanted] to test him and see how he would respond. I think when we go to Dallas we will shoot a little more."
On Clint Dempsey's performance:
"The thing that I was happiest about was the joy and exhilaration I saw in him after he scored the goal in his celebration. He has been extremely focused in this past week, and he's got his goal right now with this team. For me, nothing Clint does surprises me. I know he is always able to conjure up a goal in key moments."
On the goal by FC Dallas:
"They did a good job of bottling up [Fabian] Castillo. We tried to make sure that when he got the ball to his feet, not allowing him to turn. I thought Tyrone [Mears] did a good job there. We were attacking on their end of the field and all of a sudden the ball turned over, we got caught in transition, Castillo beat Zach Scott for speed and the rest is what it was. We got caught in transition - we talked at halftime to make sure we don't get caught on transition, and to make sure that our centerbacks slide over quicker."
On the attitude of the club:
"They are willing to do anything to help us win. They know it's playoff time, it's money time. They really stepped up. You got Clint Dempsey going in and playing the last half hour of the game at left midfield for us...He got up and down and he made things happen. He gives us a difference look. So you can tell that when you walk in [to the locker room] that they are focused. They are concentrated, but they are not a rah-rah group."
SOUNDERS FC FORWARD CLINT DEMPSEY
On scoring the game-winner:
"It felt good. I haven't scored on a free kick this year - I've hit the post a few times and the keeper made a good save in the Houston game. So it was an important time to get one. It felt good."
On deciding who would take the free kick:
"You feel confident from taking them in the past. I scored goals when I was in Europe from free kicks in that position. But I was speaking with Ivanschitz and trying to figure it out. He was confident having scored a goal already, and we were just trying to figure out who's going to take it. I was feeling confident and wanted the opportunity to try to help the team. I was glad to step up and make it count."
On coming from behind to earn the victory:
"It's difficult playing three games in one week, especially when you're a team that's been hit with the injury bug a lot. You don't want to concede at home in the playoffs, but at the same time, it took character to be able to fight back from 1-0 down, get the win and give ourselves a chance going into the second leg. We have our work cut out for us, but we give ourselves a better chance by fighting back and getting the result."
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIEELDER ANDREAS IVANSCHITZ
On Dempsey's goal and deciding who would take the free kick:
"I just asked him because it's a good position obviously for a left-footed player but he said, "No, no I will take it" and I'm very happy that he took it. It was a prefect touch, perfect free kick and obviously a very important one for us for sure."
On if free kicks are discussed before the game:
"No, no. I think in the moment he just felt it was his moment so I let him shoot. There's no problem even if he missed, no problem. In the first half Pappa took one. We have two to three very good players on set pieces and that's a very good advantage for us so it's just how you feel in those moments so I'll take it, no problem."
On Dempsey's shot:
"With this pressure we had, we were 1-0 down in the first game of a two-leg knockout round and a very important one for us and these moments have a lot of pressure, but he's very experienced and a player who always is up front for a team and with a great commitment today...The second half was very, very good and we fought and fought until the end and that was very important today because Dallas was a very good team tonight."
SOUNDERS FC GOALKEEPER STEFAN FREI
On coming from behind to win:
"It's great. We've had a lot of games in the last couple weeks and a few injuries, but we knew we needed to get a result here today. Going to Frisco next week is going to be difficult. So going down a goal, I think we showed our maturity and our experience by not panicking, staying patient and crafting some opportunities for ourselves."
On confidence heading into the second leg:
"Obviously we would have wanted that shutout, because we found out last year how important the away goals rule is. Obviously we have a positive with the win and they have a positive with the away goal. But it was a great response from us. After we get scored on, the only positive we could take is if we got a win. And we did. Now it's kind of on them to take it to us. They have to open themselves up to try to get a win at their place. Hopefully we can find some spots that they're going to leave open in the back and take advantage of those situations."
On continuing to build momentum:
"It comes at the right time for us. We had that slump in the middle, and it was a difficult time. Obviously now in retrospect, you can say that three points here and there would have given us a better seed. But the playoffs are the playoffs, and we all know that anything can happen. So we came in with confidence. Hopefully we can take this momentum with us all the way."
SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER ZACH SCOTT
On the team's mindset for the first leg:
"We were hoping to keep them to zero, and that obviously didn't happen. But we're of the mindset that we can score on anybody. We just have to play well defensively and keep teams to as few of chances as possible so they don't get goals. We fully expect to go down to Dallas and play Sounders soccer. We attack and try to win no matter where we go. We're not going to sit back on a 2-1 lead. We're going to go to win."
On depth at various positions coming in handy:
"It's tremendous. I'm in there after a couple of weeks of not playing. I looked at Chad [Marshall] in warmups and was like, ‘You all right, bud? I know this is your third game in eight days.' And he's not the only guy, so we're looking forward to these next couple of days off, getting healthy and getting back at it."
On defending FC Dallas' attacking players:
"With a guy like [Fabian] Castillo, you're just hanging on for the ride. He's so good that all you can hope for is to get there quickly and double. Unfortunately on his goal, I thought we were in a position to double, but in hindsight I probably should have taken a couple of steps back and played it as safe as possible. But I thought the guys were tremendous in the second half and we limited their chances."
FC DALLAS HEAD COACH OSCAR PAREJA
On the game:
"Very good game, very good game for us. I thought we played excellent today; ended up just giving away two goals. First one I thought was a great play by Andreas [Ivanschitz]. He took advantage of a play we decided during the week that we're not going to give up and we end up just losing the ball there in the middle and then he took advantage. I thought it was a great play by him. And the second one, it wasn't a foul, period. It wasn't a foul and as big as the stage is you cannot give that. It's incorrect. We played our game. I thought our boys did a fantastic job, especially in the first half. We have a few options and we're proud. The series is open and we'll see them in Frisco."
On Seattle adjusting to FC Dallas' speed:
"Yeah, I thought in the second half we still got behind them a lot, with Fabian [Castillo] a couple times and with Mikey [Barrios]. I don't think we made the right decisions in the last third. I thought we could hurt them more. We get in those spaces where we're dangerous. We were more consistent in the first half; that's correct. In the second half we still had some chances."
On the performance of his backline:
"Good game, good. We had a good performance. The first goal as I said, it was a ball that was in our control and we gave it away and after that the play that Andreas made was good and the second goal, the free kick, wasn't a foul."
On what is needed to advance after next week's second leg:
"We have character; this team has character. It has shown during the whole season that we have that and I don't have any doubt that we will get a result there."
FC DALLAS DEFENDER ZACH LOYD
On the match:
"I thought we came out and had a game plan. We did really well during the first half executing it. Kinda unfortunate. In the second half we gave up a few balls in bad spots. You know Clint came thought and that is what he does. We gave up a bad penalty up there. But overall, you know it is 2-1 and we got that away goal. So we know we can go back home and if we get a 1-0 result we can get through."
On playing at home next week, where they've been successful this year:
"Yes it is huge for us. We knew coming on the road we really wanted that away goal. It is good we were able to get that early. It is unfortunate we were not able to get out of here with a better result, but still coming away with an away goal is a positive."
FC DALLAS MIDFIELDER VICTOR ULLOA
On going home for the second leg:
"We know we are good at home. This year it is wide open for us to win 1-0 at home we are in. So you know, we have to take care of business at home."
On what Seattle did better in the second half:
"We knew they were going to bring the intensity and it was important for us to match it. I think on the first goal I should have cleared the ball better in the middle. The second goal I don't know if it is a foul or not. We will just have to look at it. We will take the road away goal and like I said we will have to take care of business at home."
On focusing on the counterattack:
"We know that if we can maintain tactically compact in the defense that we can have transition and that we have that speed with Fabian and Michael and what a great goal in the first half."
On being so close to leaving Seattle with a draw:
"We always want to win. Especially when we can get out of here with a tie would have been huge for us. It is a soft foul if anything but what a great strike by Dempsey."
On being a strong team at home this season:
"We are good at home. I think we have one of the best records at home in the league. We know what we have to do. Like I said this year it is wide open and 1-0 we will move on to the next round."
REFEREE KEVIN STOTT (QUESTIONS VIA THE POOL REPORTER)
Why was Seattle not awarded a penalty kick for the contact in the box between Clint Dempsey and Zach Loyd in the 16th minute?
"In the opinion of the referee, the contact was not a foul."
Why was Dallas not awarded a penalty kick for a handball in the box on Tyrone Mears early in the second half?
"In the opinion of the referee, the player's arm was in a natural playing position and the ball was not deliberately handled."