This post is more than 48 hours late. No doubt about that. Considering the tardy arrival, you may feel inclined to slip down to the Post Match portion. Your inclination would be very wrong. Very, very wrong. You would miss the beautiful simplicity from my, albeit completely late, Prematch comments. You would feel like you had cheated. Like you were suddenly a teenager again, caught shoplifting, completely missing all my post match thoughts, and your cheating ways, although innocent enough in intent, would slowly build a lonely unfulfilled emotion inside you. ”What if I had only read Sales on Sounders prematch comments first”. The voice inside your head would say over and over and over. The choice is yours. Free will is a wonderful thing. But starting at the beginning may bring you a more sweetened peace of mind than you could ever imagine.
Prematch vs FC Dallas
Saturday is the Texas Two Step, from Frisco. Sounders FC have never won in Texas. Nothing from Houston Dynamo and nothing from FC Dallas. Sounders travel to FC Dallas’s home pitch at Pizza Hut Park. The winner takes sole possession of second place in the Western Conference, and the overall MLS standings. LA Galaxy leads the way. Playoff positioning is at stake.
Sounders also want a little pay-back for losing 1-nil to FC Dallas in their first meeting at home on May 25th
On Wednesday, August 17th, FC Dallas made history. They became the first MLS squad to celebrate a win in Mexico. Defeating Pumas UNAM, Mexican Primera División Champions 1-nil. A great win to start their 2011 CONCACAF Group Stage. The mid-week match may have left them tired, but the glorious victory will surely open their confidence up to full sail ahead.
On Tuesday, August 16th, Sounders FC had its most successful CONCACAF win to date. A 4-1 win over Comunicaciones of Guatemala.
Both sides meet Saturday with hopes of securing second place in the Western Conference, and overall playoff standings in MLS. With LA signing Robbie Keane, last week, an irish international striker. It seems unlikely any team will stop LA from reaching their goal of ending the season atop the MLS table and earning the Supporters Shield. Any remote chance of catching LA, will likely come from the team that wins Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
One player stands above all as the most likely difference maker in Saturday’s showdown.
Soccer often takes itself too seriously. Media, like Twitter, has become a good source for finding the lighter side of soccer. MLS.com features a podcast airing twice a week that balances soccer’s intensity with joyful humor. Extra Time Radio airs Monday to review the weekends results and events. It airs again on Thursday to review any mid-week matches, while looking to the weekends match-ups ahead. Greg Lalas, one member of ETR”s quartet of MLS.com’s writers and media personalities, recently made the point that Brek Shea is not a good name for soccer stardom. It may be a little early to place the full weight of that stigma on Brek Shea, but his development suggests there is good reason for us to be excited about what he could become for the US Men’s National Team.
Messi, Rooney, and Xavi derive unfair comparison when thinking of single name soccer stars. Dempsey is the closest we have in US Soccer. Even Landon Donovan who is the most successful US soccer star has not caught on as a single name. Lalas proposed, “Brek”. Time will tell. For now, Brek is the primary challenge Seattle will have to mitigate if they want to win. Heat is the other serious obstacle the Sounders will face in order to come out of Texas victorious, and sitting solo in second position.
With LA Galaxy signing Robby Keane this week, it seems unlikely any team will stop them from reaching their MLS championship goal. Two teams from the West that would like to at least have that chance are FC Dallas and Sounders FC.
Sitting in second after winning in Texas, the Sounders are only two-steps from LA. ”if we want to make a run in the playoffs, you know we’re going to have to win games like this”. Keller, after the Sounders first win in Texas.
It all came down to the fifteenth minute. Lamar Neagle received the ball near midfield, along the left sideline. He rolls the ball forward on a slow dribble, while Montero makes a run up the middle. Lamar’s pass avoids an FC Dallas interception finding Fredy Montero, who slides the ball past the last FC Dallas defender. Mauro Rosales runs into the penalty box, timing a one touch strike inside the near post. Sounders lead 1-nil and all looks good.
Finally, Texas is defeated. The Sounders went on to win by the same 1-nil score. Not a pretty win. It was survival and sweat. Dallas threw everything. They even went down a man and still managed to outplay the Sounders with 10 men.
With the early goal, Seattle gave a little pay-back to FC Dallas for what Dallas did in Seattle on May 25th. A 1-nil win in Seattle. Brek scored in the 18th minute. FC Dallas bunkered in behind the ball. Rarely venturing forward the rest of the match. Seattle attacked again and again, but FC Dallas held the Alamo and stole a defensive victory. Seattle were the better squad but were not rewarded for their efforts. Carbon copy in Frisco. Seattle took an early lead, then held on by the skin of their teeth until the final whistle.
Daniel Cruz was shown a third-minute yellow card for a reckless tackle. Then in the 56th minute the referee thought he was simulating a fall to earn a free kick. The referee made a surprising call against Cruz, showing him a second yellow card. Dallas played a man down the rest of the match. You would not have known. 106 degrees hot and a sweltering attack, Dallas never gave up, and were it not for a heroic save by Keller at the death, Dallas looked poised to come back and earn a draw.
For Keller, this was his eighth shutout of the season.
The referee helped Seattle. Twenty-two fouls against Seattle and nineteen against Dallas. Forty-one fouls, each giving Sounders players a chance to catch their breath and drink water. Those little pauses helped Seattle survive 106 degrees of Texas heat and equal amount of sweltering pressure from their attack.
Keller always manages to have the right words to put the perfect perspective on a match. “Maybe they should’ve won here and we definitely should’ve beat them there”.
Happily, Sounders take advantage of the win and climb into sole possession of second place. Six points behind LA Galaxy seems a bit lofty to think the Sounders could catch them for first place in the remaining eight matches. But pulling out playoff like survival wins are what champions are made of. This is the first time I’ve felt Sounders showed that type of playoff like poise. Even more impressive it was on the road.
Credits: Kasey Keller comments from post match interviews on Sounders FC.com
© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales