Dallas Bemoans Missing Playoffs, Seattle Celebrates Successful Season

Dallas and Seattle locked horns in the teams' last match of the regular season, with vastly different implications for the sides.
SEATTLE, Wash. -- In the corner of the FC Dallas locker room, one player screamed expletives to the wall. A 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC condemned the Texans to a playoff-less offseason.

Despite taking the lead in the 14th minute, Dallas surrendered two second half goals. A win would have assured FCD of a slot in the playoffs.

"You don't want to put those words into writing," midfielder Dave van den Bergh said of his overall emotional condition. "It's a whirlwind of emotions right now. I just have to sit down quietly and process this a little bit because I -- honestly I don't know."

An abysmal start to the season meant pundits wrote off Dallas early. Then, starting with a 6-3 thrashing of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Dallas took five wins of its last seven matches. Given the earlier results in the league on the last Saturday of the regular season, a win from Dallas would have pit the team unexpectedly in the playoffs.

The blistering form of Jeff Cunningham fueled, in a large part, that late run. Following the sale of star striker Kenny Cooper, Cunningham took over a lone striker position, scoring 16 goals in the last 15 games of the season. Barring a miracle five goal haul tomorrow from Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the 33-year-old will win the golden boot award.

"I tell you what, man, the second half of the season was unbelievable," Cunningham said. "The boys gave everything, just came up short. We created an uphill battle for ourselves, and I thought we did everything we could to give ourselves a chance. Just not supposed to be I guess."

Before the match, Seattle already locked in a playoff spot and only had jostling for a seeded position left. Only twice in league history (disregarding the inaugural season) has an expansion team qualified for the playoffs: the Chicago Fire in 1998 and the Houston Dynamo in 2006. Both teams won the MLS Cup. That's the prize Sounders designated player Freddie Ljungberg has in mind.

"You look at the history and usually [expansion clubs] get battered in every game," the Swede explained. "We changed that history and we're doing well. We won a cup in D.C. and now we're going to go on [to the playoffs]. This team, we're not really celebrating here today, we're just taking it easy, and we want to win the big thing."

As Ljungberg looked ahead to the MLS Cup final in Qwest Field on Nov. 23, goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller cast a glance back to a year ago when the squad was forged. The former United States international remembered the excitement of those early days fondly, pointing out that they held positive implications that came to fruition.

"I think you could tell from early on that we weren't going to be your typical expansion team," Keller said. "We had too many good elements come into the team. What we proved is that you can put a good squad together, and everyone really raised their game throughout the season."

The Sounders locker room was void of expletives tonight.

Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com

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