Major League Soccer’s new road-goals tie-breaker worked out just fine for Seattle Sounders FC, who advanced to the Western Conference finals despite not outscoring FC Dallas in either match of their two-legged series.
Seattle and Dallas played to a scoreless draw Monday before a crowd of 38, 912 at CenturyLink Field. That was enough to put the Sounders through because of the road goal in their 1-1 draw at Dallas in the first leg last week.
That opening draw meant either team would advance with a win, Seattle would advance with a scoreless draw, and Dallas would advance with a multi-goal draw.
Despite the conflicting scenarios, both teams played aggressively from the opening whistle. Play went quickly from end to end, and both teams had chances through the scoreless first half. The best of the chances may have belonged to the Sounders, and Clint Dempsey put two shots on goal that were saved by Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, and Chad Marshall put a header on goal that was cleared off the line by Michel.
Seattle took a firmer hold on the match through the second half, with Dempsey and Obafemi Martins taking advantage of Dallas’ increasing need to push forward for the goal needed to stave off elimination.
That goal never came, and so it is the Sounders who move on to the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Galaxy. That aggregate-score series will Nov. 23 at StubHub Center in Carson, California, and will resolve Nov. 30 at CenturyLink Field.
This is the second time the Sounders have advanced to the Western Conference finals. They have never made it to MLS Cup.
They also become the first Supporters’ Shield winner to advance beyond the conference semifinals since 2011.
Earlier in the day, the United States national team announced that Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin has been called in for a pair of friendlies: Nov. 14 vs. Colombia in London and Nov. 18 vs. Ireland in Dublin.
The call in comes during an international break in the MLS playoffs, and should not affect his availability for the Los Angeles series.
Through 70' Scoreless, but very soon Dallas is going to have to shift into full cavalry charge mode and an mighty open game will open wider.
Through 60: Scorless. Sounders also have subbed Azira for Alonso due to injury, and Neagle for Pappa apparently by coach's decision.
Second half: ... is under way. No lineup changes.
Halftime: Scoreless. And of course the Sounders would advance on a scoreless match, thanks to their road goal last week. But there have been chances, and my money would not be on 45 more scoreless minutes.
Shots 8-5 SEA; on target 3-1 SEA; corners 3-1 SEA; fouls 6-5 DAL; duels won 56% SEA; possession 53.8% SEA.
30' Scoreless through 30, but it's all but impossible to imagine this playing out scoreless through 90.
First 20 minutes: Still scoreless, but lots of chances. Dallas getting through and around Sounders defense with some regularity.
First 10 minutes: Scoreless, but already good chances for Dempsey and Castillo.
First kick: ... has been struck. Decisive leg of Western Final under way. Sounders in rave/blue; Dallas in red/red.
Lineups: Sounders: Frei; Yedlin, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez; Evans, Alonso, Pineda, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins. Reserves: Hahnemann, Neagle, Azira, Anibaba, Barrett, Cooper.
For Dallas: Seitz, Hernandez, Loyd, Hedges(C), Watson, Ulloa, Michel, Castillo, Akindele, Diaz, Perez. Reserves: Fernandez, Zimmerman, Acosta, Moffat, Escobar, Hollingshead, Texeira.
Pregame: It's a nice night for soccer at CenturyLink Field where the Sounders and FC Dallas will play for the right to go on to meet Los Angeles in the MLS Western Conference final.
A win or a scoreless draw sends the Sounders through, a win or a draw of 2-2 or more sends the Hoops through, and a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation sends things to added time and then PKs if needed.
The game will be shown on NBCSN, with first kick set for 7:58. We'll keep the blog open before, during and after the match, and we'll have more updates and comments on Twitter @donruiztnt.
The match also will be heard on the usual radio outlets.