Major League Soccer will get the matchup it was hoping for. It wasn't pretty, but the Seattle Sounders squeezed out a 0-0 tie with FC Dallas on Monday to advance on away goals and set up a dream Western Conference final with the LA Galaxy. The Sounders tied FC Dallas 1-1 in the first leg.
Despite effectively being up a goal, it was the Sounders who seemed more interested in pressing the action for much of the match. The Sounders outshot Dallas 14-9 and Clint Dempsey had two glorious chances to score, but Chris Seitz came up with big saves both times.
The best chance FC Dallas mustered from the run of play was a second-half shot from Fabian Castillo that he sent wide after getting behind the Sounders defense. Otherwise, FC Dallas seemed mostly content to look for penalties and play for set-piece opportunities.
Sounders: Frei, Yedlin, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez, Evans - C, Alonso (Azira 56), Pineda, Pappa (Neagle 59), Dempsey (Traore 92), Martins
FC Dallas: Seitz, Hernandez (Zimmerman 85), Loyd, Hedges(C), Watson, Ulloa, Michel (Texeira 86), Castillo, Akindele, Diaz, Perez (Escobar 80)
1. Losing Alonso is huge: There might not be a more irreplaceable player in MLS than Osvaldo Alonso. Sure, the Sounders still have plenty of firepower but their ability to keep teams off the scoresheet is heavily dependent on Alonso's ability to cover for a defense that is, at best, suspect. Sure, they managed to finish out the final 30-odd minutes without him, but this is a huge loss if he's out for an extended period. Luckily, they have an extra week to get him healthy.
2. Away goals finally mattered: Sure, there was a psychological effect in the other series, but this was the first time he away goals actually determined the winner. The Sounders got one in Dallas and Dallas didn't get one in Seattle. Simple as that.
3. FC Dallas showed no urgency: Speaking of away goals, what was FC Dallas' plan here? They never really seemed intent on pressing the game, instead mostly looking content to catch the Sounders on the counter. That's not an awful plan, but once the game got down to the wire -- and especially after Alonso went out -- you'd think there'd be some urgency to get a goal. Dallas' lack of urgency was never more apparent than in the final couple minutes when Seitz never came into the offensive half, despite a goal against doing absolutely nothing to hurt Dallas' chances.