SEATTLE, Wash. -- FC Dallas (11-12-6, 39 points) saw its playoff drive end before 33,108 delirious fans that celebrated the Sounders’ (12-7-11, 47 points) first ever visit to the postseason.
Atiba Harris scored in the 14th minute of play to give the visitors a lead they kept into the second half. Seattle rebounded with goals by Nate Jaqua in the 61st minute and Brad Evans in the 84th minute.
FC Dallas came into the match with a four game winning streak. Forward Jeff Cunningham entered the game as the league’s leading goal scorer with 17, but failed to add to this total.
The Sounders set an MLS record for average attendance that amounted to 30,943 per game. The team announced that an additional 3,000 seats would be made available prior to the next home playoff game.
In the fifth minute of play, Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg made a short pass to his left winger Steve Zakuani. The former University of Akron player found defender Leo Gonzalez open on the left side of the box. He hit the ball with the outside of his foot with venom, sending it spiraling wide.
Seven minutes later, Dallas midfielder David Feirrera beat two Seattle defenders to the ball after a long goal kick. His shot sailed high over the net. Dallas continued to threaten when midfielder Atiba Harris sent a cross to the right post. Seattle ‘keeper Kasey Keller reached the ball just before forward Jeff Cunningham to stop the threat.
Dallas’s efforts finally paid off in the 14th minute, when Harris scored his fourth goal of the year to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. He received a pass from his left from midfielder Daniel Hernandez. Harris streaked towards goal, and his shot from distance hugged the ground and found the left post past a sprawling Keller.
Dallas FC at times played four men up front, which included Cunningham, Harris, van den Bergh and McCarty.
In the 26th minute, referee Baldomero Toledo issued his first caution of the match to Dallas defender Heath Pearce for a high tackle near the touchline on Seattle’s Steve Zakuani. The former Arsenal youth player appeared to have a clear path to the goal before Pearce’s tackle.
From the restart, Ljungberg sent his free kick towards the right post. With Dallas defender George John in front of him, Jaqua attempted to head the ball in by jumping on top of John.
The Dallas defender’s bad luck continued in the 33rd minute, this time Ljungberg stepped on John’s left ankle. He crumpled to the ground in pain and walked off gingerly after several minutes on the ground. John was eventually replaced by Kyle Davies in the 40th minute.
With Dallas down to 10 men due to John’s injury, Ljungberg through-pass found Zakuani in the 35th minute of play. His pass reached Jaqua just outside the box, who airmailed his shot over the goal.
Dallas received their second yellow card of the night two minutes later when Harris used a sliding tackle to take down Jaqua. On the subsequent free kick by Ljungberg, he sent it towards the right post. Fredy Montero’s header went wide and over the endline.
Ljungberg’s corner kick in the 42nd minute again connected, this time with defender Tyrone Marshall. It was on target but directly to Dallas ‘keeper Sala.
The Sounders came out determined in the second 45 minutes of play and pressured the Dallas defense. In the 52nd minute, Keller sent his goal kick deep into Dallas territory. Benitez was unable to clear the ball and Montero’s soft shot ended up directly to the Dallas ‘keeper.
Referee Toledo was lenient with Ljungberg after a disagreement over a ball that went out of bounds. The Swede slammed the ball into the turf in front of the linesman to show his displeasure, yet no caution was issued.
After a yellow card to Alonso for a hard tackle on Dallas’ Daniel Hernandez, the subsequent free kick rattled around the Seattle box area. The ball bounced off several Dallas and Seattle players before it was cleared to midfield.
The physical play continued into the 60th minute. This time Seattle midfielder Brad Evans used a wrestling move to take down Benitez near the Dallas right corner flag, earning a caution from the referee.
Jaqua scored in the 62nd minute to tie the game 1-1. From the left side of the pitch, Zakuani connected with Ljungberg. The Swede passed to Montero near the right post. The Colombian cut the ball back into the box to Jaqua, who redirected the ball into the net for his ninth goal of the year.
Sixty seconds later, Jaqua used a header from Ljungberg’s outswinger corner kick to put the ball on frame. Dallas midfielder Dave van den Bergh positioned himself near the post to bundle the ball away.
The Sounders were determined to get the win. They had a great opportunity in the 80th minute when Jaqua hustled for a ball that appeared to have gone over the touchline. He deftly crossed the ball to a wide open Zakuani, who sent his shot over the net.
Seattle midfielder Brad Evans scored his third goal of the year to give the Sounders a 2-1 lead in the 84th minute. Jaqua passed the ball to Ljungberg. The veteran outhustled two Dallas players to get the ball to a criminally unmarked Evans, who softly touched the ball over Sala and into the net.
Before time expired, Dallas ‘keeper Sala moved up outside of the box in an attempt to net another goal. Ljungberg saw the goalie out of position and tried his luck. However, his high kick overshot the target and sailed into the crowd.
John Zielonka, Goal.com
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