SEATTLE - The Seattle Sounders continued their march toward history Monday night, advancing past FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinal round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T, thanks to a tension-filled scoreless draw at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders move on to the Conference Championship thanks to the newly instituted away-goals tiebreaker, following their 1-1 draw last weekend in Dallas, becoming the first Supporters’ Shield winner to advance past the first round since 2011 and continuing their quest to become the first team to win the US Open Cup, Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in a single season.
The Seattle victory sets up a series with the LA Galaxy, a rematch of sorts between the two teams that dueled for the Shield to the final weekend of the regular season.
FC Dallas’ resurgent season ends after their first trip to the postseason in three years and a Knockout Round victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Despite the absence of goals, the game featured plenty of action, with both teams making penalty kick claims after Seattle star Clint Dempsey was brought down in the box midway through the second half and Fabian Castillo was barged off the ball in the first half.
Dallas, who saw the return of playmaker Mauro Diaz after his suspension in the first leg, controlled much of the possession in the first half but found opportunities at a premium.
Their best chance came in the ninth minute when Castillo split two defenders inside the Seattle box, but his toe-poke shot hooked wide.
Seattle, however, created a handful of opportunities through an effective counterattacking game.
In the seventh minute, a clever first-time pass by Brad Evans freed Dempsey on goal. But the shot by Seattle’s star forward, after a handful of stepover moves, was parried over by goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
In the 26th minute, Dempsey was dragged down just outside the area after being played through perfectly by Obafemi Martins, but the resulting Marco Pappa free kick was blocked. On the ensuing corner kick Seattle saw their best chance to score when Michel was forced to clear a Chad Marshall header off the line.
Martins set up Dempsey again in the 41st minute on a cross in the box, but his shot was once again saved by Seitz.
Both sides had thrilling exchanges eight minutes out of the locker room when, first, Martins made a probing run into the Dallas area that pulled Seitz off his line before the threat was eventually cleared. Dallas came right back with a build-up to a dangerous Castillo shot from outside the area that rolled just outside the post.
Castillo had an open look on goal in the 61st minute after being played in by Diaz, but he couldn’t put his chip shot on frame.
The action picked up late, but despite Dallas needing the goal it was Seattle who were the aggressors, despite the loss of midfield leader Osvaldo Alonso to an injury in the 59th minute.
They saw good opportunities go by the board on an Evans header off a corner kick in the 66thminute, but his attempt sailed high.
In the 84th minute, a bad clearance attempt by Dallas set up a Dempsey blast that Seitz turned away with a diving save. FC Dallas' last-ditch chance to keep their season alive came by way of a stoppage-time corner kick, but it was easily cleared away.