There's been no more familiar Seattle Sounders playoff opponent than FC Dallas, especially in the last 10 years. The Western Conference foes will be facing off for the sixth time in the postseason starting on Monday, all since first clashing in 2014. This will the first time it's part of a best-of-3 series.
The meetings have been both mundane and heated, but have always been competitive. Here's a look back on them in order of most memorable to least:
2019: Sounders triumph in extra-time
If you ever wanted an advertisement for the greatness of one-off playoffs, just show someone this game. The No. 2 seed Sounders jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris, and seemed to be cruising to a first-round victory over No. 7 seed FC Dallas (sounds familiar...), only for the Toros to come roaring back to equalize 2-2. Morris then scored his second goal to put the Sounders back in front, only for Kellyn Acosta to equalize again in the 82nd minute and push the game into extra time. Morris completed his hat trick with a 113th minute strike to lift the Sounders to victory.
What made it memorable: Not only was the game an entertaining up-and-down affair, but it set the Sounders on the path to their second MLS Cup. The Sounders outscored their next three opponents 8-2, including a 3-1 win over best-team-ever™ LAFC.
2016: Sounders spring an epic upset
If the 2019 game was a great advertisement for one-off series, this was a pretty good example of how much fun an aggregate-goal series can be. Fresh off beating Sporting KC in the wildcard game, the Sounders rode their momentum to win the first leg against Supporters' Shield-winners FC Dallas 3-0. Nicolas Lodeiro had two goals with Joevin Jones providing two assists, as well. Not inclined to go down without a fight, FC Dallas looked dominant in the return leg and got back into the match behind a Tesho Akindele goal just 25 minutes in. The match was pretty nervy until Lodeiro scored in the 54th minute from a Tyrone Mears assist, rendering Maxi Urruti's goal just two minutes later mostly academic.
What made it memorable: This is the series where Lodeiro's legend really took off. He was easily the series' best player, scoring three goals and giving the Sounders a sense of control throughout. The Sounders rode this momentum to their first MLS Cup.
2015: FC Dallas gets some revenge
This is the one time FC Dallas has gotten the better of the Sounders in the playoffs. Dallas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first leg, only for Seattle to come roaring back with a pair of second-half goals from Andres Ivanschitz and Clint Dempsey. Ivanschitz's goal was particularly impressive, as he skated past several defenders to blast it in with his left foot. That proved to be just a warm-up, though, for an epic second leg. Dallas dominated the match, but couldn't find a goal until Akindele scored 84th minute header that put them in position to advance. But then Chad Marshall seemingly put the Sounders through with a 90th minute header, only for Dallas to come back and score almost immediately to put the game into extra time. Dallas continued to dominate but couldn't find a goal, sending the game into penalties. Ivanschitz and Chad Barrett each had penalties saved and Dallas went 4-for-4 to advance.
What made it memorable: In addition to the back and forth nature of the series, this really seemed to be the end of an era for the Sounders. This was supposed to be the year Oba-Deuce finally got their needed win, but neither really showed up in this series (Dempsey's goal notwithstanding). It was pretty obvious that some sort of reset was needed.
2014: A professional advancement
Fresh off winning their first-ever Supporters' Shield, the Sounders looked at Dallas more as a warm-up act for their presumed showdown with the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference finals. Dallas took a first-leg lead on a Michel free kick but Osvaldo Alonso equalized in the 54th minute to send the series back to Seattle on even terms. The second leg was mostly uneventful, with the Sounders settling for a 0-0 tie that was enough to put them through.
What made it memorable: Given the Sounders' relative lack of playoff success to this point, that they were able to advance without much drama was itself pretty notable. But truth be told, this was not a particularly memorable series, as Stefan Frei only had to make one save in the second leg and the Sounders always looked the team morel likely to score.
2020: Yes, this happened
Sandwiched between a win over LAFC and that epic come-from-behind win over Minnesota United, was a largely forgettable 1-0 win over FC Dallas in the 2020 Western Conference semifinals. Shane O'Neill scored the game's only goal and Frei didn't have to make a single save.
What made this memorable: Truth be told, I didn't remember anything about this meeting until I looked it up. It was played in front of an empty stadium – as were most games that year – and nothing about the match really stood out. But it’s notable that all 3 previous times the Sounders have faced Dallas in the postseason under Brian Schmetzer, they ultimately went to MLS Cup.