Seattle Sounders
The Seattle Sounders FC celebrate with the fans after the game against the FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field. The game was a 0-0 draw. Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE – Sound the alarm, Seattle has advanced to the MLS Cup Western Conference finals for just the second time in franchise history. The game lacked scoring, but not excitement as Seattle played to a scoreless 0-0 draw with FC Dallas in the second leg of their conference semifinals.

The first leg of the series was a 1-1 draw that took place in Dallas last week, but thanks to a new MLS Cup playoffs rule change, Seattle was able to move on to the Western Conference finals by scoring one away goal to FC Dallas’ zero. In years previous, the two teams would have gone in to extra time and the team to advance could have been decided on penalty kicks. However, the new rule change allowed Seattle to completely change their strategy and tactics going into the match.

Seattle manager, Sigi Schmid, parked the bus on defense for the entire game. Schmid told his back four before the match not to advance at any time unless he told them to. That strategy, plus some late offense for defense substitutions helped the Sounders avoid the pitfalls of the last two Supporters’ Shield winners as San Jose in 2012 and New York last season were both eliminated in the semifinals.

Seattle dominated possession in the second half of the match, and was patient, opting to not turn the ball over and allow FC Dallas out on the break, but rather wait and take scoring opportunities only as they came. Clint Dempsey almost gave Seattle the lead in the 68th minute when his shot deflected off of a Dallas defender and just missed the net by a foot. FC Dallas goalkeeper, Chris Seitz, was not prepared for the deflection and reacted late on the play. Thankfully for him, the ball sailed just wide.

Dempsey again was denied a goal in the 84th minute, this time, by a tremendous defensive play by Seitz. Seattle had a man advantage in their own zone as Brad Evans pushed the ball inside the box, Dallas defender Matt Hughes, attempted to clear it, but his weak clearance went right to Dempsey who was wide open in the center of the box. Seitz dove to his right just as Dempsey’s straight away shot deflected off his feet, keeping hope alive for Dallas.

The hope fizzled quickly however as the Sounders defense denied the last ditch effort by Dallas. Dallas brought on Andres Escobar Diaz who was back from suspension and has had previous success against Seattle in the 80th minute, but other than a close call in the box in which Diaz appeared to have been tripped up, he wasn’t able to get anything started for Dallas. FC Dallas was eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs for the third time in five years. Seattle will take on the Los Angeles Galaxy in two weeks in the Western Conference championship series.

Game Notes:
Seattle Sounders star Osvaldo Alonso was injured in the 55th minute when he came up limp grabbing his hamstring inside the penalty box. Alonso has been crucial to Seattle’s success this season. If Seattle can advance passed the Galaxy and win the MLS Cup, they will become the first team to win the US Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in a single season.

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