Seattle comes from behind to beat Dallas, 2-1.
The result means the Sounders will finish either second or third in the MLS Western Conference, depending on the result of Sunday's Houston-Chivas game. Seattle finishes second on a draw, third if there's a winner. (Los Angeles clinched first place in the West tonight with a win over San Jose.)
So, here are the remaining possibilities for the Sounders: If the Houston-Chivas game ends in a draw, Seattle will finish second in the Western Conference and will open the playoffs at Houston. Otherwise, the Sounders will finish third – behind Los Angeles and Sunday’s winner, and ahead of Sunday’s loser. In that case, they would begin the playoffs against the No. 2 finisher, probably Thursday at Qwest Field.
However, the party line tonight was that the Sounders don't care who they play. They're happy to be in the playoffs, and they believe they match up with anyone on any pitch.
“For me, the only important thing is that we’re in the playoffs,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I never concern myself with who we’re going to play. Once I know who we’re going to play, obviously we’re going to prepare for them tactically. But it’s never where I say I’d rather play this team or that team.”
Rather than wrangle with all the what-ifs of tomorrow, the Sounders wanted to enjoy this win with their fans.
“The fans have been superior all year," Kasey Keller said. "We just wanted to be able to go out on a high note on that game, and now we can concentrate on the playoffs.”
“It’s been beyond anybody’s wildest dreams,” Schmid said. “Everybody talks, ‘Hey it could be like this; it might be like this; we think it’s going to be good and it’s going to be received.’ But it’s beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. The fans continue to come out game after game. The support that we’ve gotten from the city, the love that they’ve showered upon our team and the organization, and hopefully what we’ve returned to them as well. We just want this to continue. I don’t want to wake up if this is a dream.”
Seattle ends its first regular season, 12-7-11. The loss ended Dallas' season.
Attendance records: Tonight's attendance is 33,108, most ever for a regular-season Sounders game. It also gave the Sounders a season-average home attendance of 30,943, highest in MLS history. The Sounders say that attendance ranks 50th in the world in 2008-09.
Sounders opening upper deck for playoffs: Sounders FC has announced that playoff tickets sold out this morning, within 30 minutes of going on sale to the general public. Due to that response, the team w has announced that it will open 3,000 loge seats (the lower rim of the upper level).
84th minute: Sounders take the lead, 2-1. Brad Evans finishes with nice lofting touch after nice move and pass from Ljungberg.
62nd minute: Sounders pull even, 1-1. A long looping Ljungberg cross was touched back nicely by a sliding Montero, and Jaqua finished from right in front.
The goal ended a Sounders streak of 466 scoreless minutes at home.
Second half: Has begun.
Halftime: Dallas up, 1-0. Seattle has now gone 449 minutes without a goal on its home pitch.
Sounders have outshot Dallas, 6-3; both teams have put two shots on goal; Seattle leads in corners, 4-0. (This doesn't seem like a game that's destined to end 1-0.)
A nice touch at halftime was a video of Sounders players singing "Seattle," ("The bluest skies you've ever seen," etc.) This game has the feel of an oughta-be celebration. But the players have to do their part over this next 45 minutes.
The stakes: Earlier results of the day have clarified what is at stake here tonight. If Dallas wins, they're in the playoffs and Seattle finished fourth in the West. If Dallas doesn't win, they're out, and Seattle's final position will remain unknown until tomorrow's Houston-Chivas game goes final.
14th minute: As often happens when you don't take advantage of your own chances ... the other side does. In this case, an Atiba Harris goal from about 20 yards just inside the far post. And then he makes it personal with some gestures to the crowd. Assist to Daniel Hernandez.
Early going: Sounders dominating chances, but the home scoring jinx lives. Nate Jaqua passed on a one-on-one when a shot seemed the way to go. Then a sweet slide-footed loft of an Brad Evans apparent goal was waved off for offside.
Kickoff: We've begun: Sounders in green/blue, Dallas in its red and white hoops.
Elsewhere: Kansas City just pulled even with D.C. United on a penalty kick in stoppage time. Obviously, those two points in the standings could be the difference between in or out of the playoffs. (It went final 2-2, although D.C. put one off the post in the final minute.)
Golden Scarf: In keeping with tonight's theme of honoring Sounders fans, tonight's golden scarf goes to representatives of the Sounders fan alliance.
Playoffs, anyone? At least as of the time I write this (7:05), nothing has happened tonight to discourage Dallas' belief that it's playing for a playoff spot tonight. The team's clustered for the final spot have all lost or all trailing, including DC, Colorado, and most notably Toronto -- which lost 5-0 to New York. Yes, 5-0. Yes, New York.
Here's the MLS scoreboard.
Lineups released: We just received starting lineups to tonight's FC Dallas-at-Sounders game (7:30, KONG).
For Seattle: GK Keller; D Riley, Hurtado, Marshall, Gonzalez; M Ljungberg, Alonso, Evans, Zakuani; F Montero, Jaqua. Reserves: Boss, Ianni, King, Le Toux, Levesque, Vagenas, Wahl.
For Dallas: GK Sala; D Pearce, Ihemelu, John, Benitez; M Harris, Ferreira, Hernandez, McCarty, van den Bergh; F Cunningham.
Tonight: We plan our usual gameday running blog: News as it happens, in-game updates, postgame notes and quotes ... and discussion throughout.