By Clay Massey
FRISCO, Texas _A second half goal by Osvaldo Alonso spoiled what was on track to being one of FC Dallas’ best playoff games in history as the Seattle Sounders tied FC Dallas 1-1 in the first leg of the 2014 MLS Western Conference Semifinals. After defeating Vancouver 2-1 in the Western Conference Knockout round, 16,112 loud FC Dallas fans packed Toyota Stadium as FC Dallas played host to the Supporters Shield holding Seattle Sounders in the first leg of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Dallas lined up in a 4-4-2 with Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo holding down the striker roles, and Seattle countered with a 4-4-2 as well with Obafemi Martins and USMNT captain Clint Dempsey as the strikers.
Dallas opened the pressure, but never had the clear cut chance in the initial minutes. Crosses and corners were the mainstay in the first 20 minutes. Seattle had the first massive opportunity of the match when Obafemi Martins broke through on goal in the 18’ minute, but Raul Fernandez stood tall in a one on one situation to make the stop.
FC Dallas had a chance from the spot in the 33’ minute after a foul by Marco Pappa on Andres Escobar in the box. Allen Chapman pointed to the spot immediately. The dead ball specialist Michel made it 1-0 to FC Dallas from the spot. Another chance came a minute into first half stoppage time when Marco Pappa hit a shot but was stonewalled by a stretched Raul Fernandez, and the rebound was cleared off the line by Matt Hedges.
We saw Fabian Castillo push back out wide, and Tesho Akindele push up top in half #2. The second half started slow, but Seattle earned a free-kick in a dangerous position 30 yards out. Seattle got a crucial away goal in the 54’ minute on a brilliant ball in from Pappa from the right touchline that Alonso just had to tap home with Seattle’s 7th shot on goal to make it 1-1 and give Seattle the tie-breaker on the away goal rule. Castillo had a chance in the 90’ minute that Frei made a one handed stop on to keep it level. The match would end 1-1 with Seattle picking up the away goal.
Oscar Pareja was very happy with the performance of his side. “It was one of the best of the season in terms to the energy and the discipline and the urgency. The series is open.” Said Pareja. The goal scorer Michel was, “happy (to get a goal), but still want to get the win.” The series will head back to Seattle next Monday (11/10) at 9 P.M. central.