Dallas was trying to make history, and while they got a 2-1 win against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, the Sounders got the ultimate goal with a Western Conference semifinal series victory.
The Sounders, thanks to their 3-0 victory at home in the series’ first leg, advanced on aggregate, 4-2, to the conference finals against the Colorado Rapids.
Dallas, needing four goals to win the series, attacked hard in the first half and scored once. They surrendered a crucial goal to Nicolas Lodeiro early in the second half but scored quickly after that to make for an interesting finish.
Dallas was just the third team to face a three-goal deficit in the playoffs after the first game; and all three teams went on to lose the series. Dallas outshot Seattle, 22-8, but ultimately could not get the goals it needed.
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“It was kind of one-way traffic there. We were under the gun,” a relieved Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters after the match. “Give credit to Oscar (Pareja, Dallas’ coach) for his game plan.”
Now the Sounders face Colorado, who eliminated the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday by beating the Galaxy in a penalty shootout. The Western Conference Finals is scheduled to start on Nov. 22 after a two-week international break.
The series victory and a chance to advance to the MLS Cup for the first time in Sounders history was tempered by two injuries. Forwards Jordan Morris (hamstring strain) and Nelson Valdez (lower leg) were injured and removed from the game.
Morris played the first half but was subbed at halftime. Valdez slumped to the ground early in the second half without any contact but was able to walk off the field.
Earlier in the day, both players were called in for national team duty as a total of seven Sounders earned that distinction. Schmetzer said Morris would be examined by staff, but did not know if he or Valdez would forgo their call ups because of their injuries.
Seattle sat back in the defensive end for much of the first half but gave up a goal in the 25th minute. Dallas defender Atiba Harris hooked a cross into the area and Tesho Akindele headed it off the crossbar for his third career playoff goal.
Seattle got a much needed away goal in the 54th minute from midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro to tie it a 1. Tyrone Mears stole it from Walker Zimmerman deep in Dallas territory and played it across goal for a sliding Lodeiro.
“That ended up being a really massive, massive play for us,” Schmetzer said.
Two minutes later, Maximiliano Urruti gave Dallas a 2-1 lead but it still needed three more goals to move on.
Dallas’ coach lamented his team’s missed opportunities but was encouraged by their effort.
“The way they played and the way they executed the plan was great,” Pareja said. “The effort, the willingness to do it, the energy, the intensity and the volume of soccer on that side, especially on the right, was remarkable for the players. It was working — we could have scored maybe three goals in the first half.”
7 SOUNDERS GET CALL
Seven Sounders players were selected for national team duty during the upcoming international break, which occurs before the MLS conference finals.
The players are Morris (United States), Roman Torres (Panama), Joevin Jones (Trinidad & Tobago), Lodeiro (Uruguay), Valdez (Paraguay), Oniel Fisher (Jamaica) and Damion Lowe (Jamaica).
Morris, if he’s able to play, would join the U.S. national team for the beginning of the final hexagonal stage of World Cup qualifying.
The U.S. plays Mexico on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, and then faces Costa Rica on Nov. 15 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Morris has 12 appearances with USMNT, most recently logging 30 minutes as a substitute in the team’s friendly in Cuba on Oct. 7.
Torres and Jones are also joining their national teams for CONCACAF hexagonal stages. Lodeiro and Valdez are playing in the CONMEBOL qualifying matches, and Fisher and Lowe join Jamaica for the 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying match.