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Savvy over style, how Seattle beat FC Dallas

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A tale of two halves lead to FC Dallas' first loss of the season.

Cooper Neill

Well, that game must have been pretty freaking frustrating for FC Dallas fans. Dallas, playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, went up 2-1 on Seattle before surrendering two unanswered goals in the second half to lose their first game of the year, 3-2.

For all the great, aesthetically pleasing soccer Oscar Pareja's team has been playing, Seattle really mucked-up the game in the first half and utilized a stronger push forward in the second to pull out the win.

From the jaws of victory

Any time you have a 2-1 lead at home at halftime, it's a game you'll want to finish. Dallas looked affected by the strong wind in their face in the second half and couldn't find any way through the Seattle Sounders midfield.

Passes that looked so sharp and poised in the first half got sloppy in the second. Unforced turnovers were huge and gave Seattle all the chances they wanted.

If FC Dallas is left out of a place they want to be at the end of the season, it will be games like this that fans can look back on with ire. I think it's too early for any "here we go again" talk, but if they play few more games like this, you can bet that narrative will be back with a vengence.

I would have almost liked to see Dallas just get blown-out in a game they lost. Pareja will surely use this as an example of a time his team should have been grittier and found a way to win. I am really interested to see how/ whether FC Dallas bounces back in their next game.

Chit chat

** Sour Grapes Alert! **

Clint Dempsey is a top-five USMNT player of all-time. He has had success at the very top levels of play in the world. He is an amazing player, and showed it with this free kick on Saturday evening.

Throughout the match though, Dempsey also complained to the 27 year-old referee as much as I've ever seen anyone do so. Maybe he's the MLS' version of LeBron James, but it doesn't look good when his team is tripping themselves (I'm looking at you, Kenny Cooper) and Dempsey is yelling at the young ref trying to get more calls.

One thing Dallas fans should like about the game was how little FC Dallas players talked to the referee. It was a stark comparison, at least based on the Seattle television feed I got on MLS Live. Along with good set pieces and what looked like sharp offensive cohesion until the second half on Saturday, players not doing a lot of talking to the official is a signal to me that Oscar Pareja really has control over this squad.

Things like chatter to refs, or lack thereof, are not always just about individual players, but also about the culture of a team, and FC Dallas fans may see a silver lining in their team keeping their mouths shut and playing -- even if that play was really sloppy and ineffective in the second half.

The Blueprint

The thing that should be most concerning about their first loss of the season is that Seattle gave a blueprint for beating FC Dallas that a team can follow no matter how out-classed they are by the Hoops' speed or skill.

Seattle's early fouls were hard, brutal, and consistent. Earning every bit of three cautions during the first half, Seattle put down their own caution to Dallas attackers -- keep playing the same way and you'll continue to get beat-up.

Dallas acted beat-up in the second half -- more hesitant to challenge 50/50 balls and not sharp at all with passes and decision-making. Especially notable was the lack of impact from Mauro Diaz in the second half. Diaz looked great early in the game, but took a few hard fouls and seemed virtually invisible over the last 45 minutes of the game.

Ironically, it was Diaz who ended up with a late chance to tie the game, but his first touch was heavy and by the time he got a second, the keeper was on-top of him. It was the kind of play you'd expect from a player who was a half-step slower at the end of a long, physical match.

These are the kinds of foul-riddled matches that don't do the MLS any favors in terms of turning-on fringe soccer fans, but give a ton of credit to Seattle for finding a way to stick with their game plan and pull out a win.