Now that I've had 24 hours to sit on this one, I still don't really know how I feel about the 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders last Sunday. On one hand, the result was OK. It was just one conceded away goal against a very strong offensive powerhouse, but on the other hand FC Dallas' attack was sputtering when it really needed to find at least a couple of goals. So it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it wasn't ideal either. But I can say for certain that I'm ot a fan of this away goal set up that MLS is implementing, as it gave us a pretty cagey match between two offensive teams. But anyways, onto the Chalkboard and analysis from the first leg of the Western Conference Semi-Final.
Defense Up to the Task
The Sounders were very much content to get out of this one without conceding more than one goal, and even scoring one for themselves wasn't high on the priority list. At least that's how it seemed for much of the night. The Sounders were very content to sit deep and let Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle catch Dallas on the break as evidenced by their low number (9) attempted passes in the final third.
Overall not a bad tactic to employ. Dallas needed to score more goals here and what better way to contain the likes of Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele than just sitting back and crowding the space? But when Seattle did get the ball, they looked to break quickly and with dogged determination to get the ball into the attacking half. This then put a lot of pressure on Zach Loyd and Matt Hedges to be sound positionally, strong communicators and have quick reactions. Thankfully for Dallas, they were up to the task and then some.
That's 17 combined interceptions from the two centerbacks, with Loyd providing 12 of them. I'd have to give Men of the Match awards to them, with Victor Ulloa coming in a close second.
Not that this was surprising by any stretch given the tactics Sigi Schmid deployed for his team. This was when a certain Mauro Diaz would have been helpful to have, and maybe this will be something the young playmaker can learn from. Dallas managed only one shot in the first half, and it was Michel's penalty.
Thankfully things picked up and the team did manage 6 shots in the 2nd half but it certainly left a lot to be desired.
Then there's Fabian Castillo who had his moments, but failed when the team really needed him to be at his best. Castillo did manage to get himself into dangerous positions, something he's known to be able to do with relative ease, but his final ball was severely lacking in any kind of quality.
That's 1/9 in the final third, and that one successful pass was a throw in. Bottom line, Castillo has to do better with the ball in those types of positions. I'll even advocate for him to hold the ball for that extra second to try to dribble into the box and draw a penalty. To his credit, he did do well in his build up and combination play everywhere else going 18/20 passing.
Dallas will need to score in Seattle next Monday in order to advance to the next round (and hold off Seattle). Here's to a fully fit Mauro Diaz to provide that extra bit of quality that this team could have used this past Sunday.