You can imagine the mixed feelings FC Dallas must have experienced after the first leg of its playoff series with Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday.
On one hand, they shut out Sounders forwards Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, who had combined for 32 goals over the regular season. But then they had to settle for a draw after surrendering a tying goal to Osvaldo Alonso, a defensive midfielder who hadn’t scored during the 34-game season.
“The frustrating part was that we held Dempsey and Martins in check, but gave up a set-piece goal to Osvaldo Alonso,” Dallas defender Matt Hedges said. “After (that) result, I expect more of the same game in Seattle. It’s going to be a close game, a physical game, like it was (Sunday). Both teams will possess the ball for stretches and attack one another.”
The aggregate-score series will conclude Monday at CenturyLink Field. Because Major League Soccer uses away goals as the first tiebreaker, Seattle would advance with a win or a scoreless draw. Dallas would advance with a win or a draw of 2-2 or higher. A 1-1 tie at the end of regulation would send the match to extra time and then penalty kicks if necessary.
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“It’s halftime (in the series) and the score is 1-1,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “But we’re coming into our field and we’re at home, so we’re anxious and excited about that. We know that Dallas — and Dallas knows — that they’ve got to score if they’ve going to have a chance of doing anything.”
Schmid indicated that prospect could create more chances for his high-scoring forward tandem. However, he thought Dempsey and especially Martins didn’t lack for chances in the opener, only goals.
“They did a good job of putting us under pressure and not allowing us to get into a really good passing rhythm,” Schmid said. “But on the same token, Oba had the breakaway, Oba has that chance right before the end of the first half. Clint had a couple of good looks where he normally hits the ball a little bit better than that. … Generally if those guys get four looks of that quality, generally a couple of those are in the back of the net.”
Dempsey and Martins took a combined six shots and put five on target. Martins’ two shots on goal were among the best chances of the match: a breakaway behind the Dallas defense that ended in a one-on-one save by goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and another shot just before halftime that Fernandez managed to get a hand on.
“We had chances,” Martins said. “This is a soccer game. You never know what is going to happen during the game. You just keep trying. That’s what we did the last game. I think the defenders, they did quite well; I’m not going to lie. But at the same time, it’s going to be a different case playing at home. So I’m going to do everything to score goals as a striker, and to win.”
Sounders sign homegrown Mansaray
The Sounders have signed 17-year-old forward Victor Mansaray of Fife to a Homegrown Player contract. Mansaray entered the Sounders FC Academy in the 2012-13 season and led the Sounders U-16s with 18 goals last season. He also has played for United States U-18 national team. He is not eligible to play for the MLS Sounders until 2015. He is a native of Sierra Leone and spent time in Jamaica before moving to Western Washington.
The Sounders trained Wednesday at CenturyLink Field. Schmid said he wanted to let his players work on the same surface they will be playing on, while also having enough time to recover from the soreness that follows work on artificial turf. They will return Thursday to the natural grass of Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. … Midfielder Gonzalo Pineda was limited Wednesday due to a lower-body muscle injury that kept him out of the first leg. Schmid said Pineda could return to full training Thursday. Midfielder Marco Pappa was held out of Wednesday work due to flu symptoms. … Alonso became the father of a new baby girl on Monday.