FRISCO, Texas – Two players returning to the starting lineup after long injury layoffs provided goals for their teams as FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC played to a 1-1 draw at a steamy FC Dallas Stadium on Sunday.
The draw moves Seattle a point clear of the LA Galaxy in the hotly contested Western Conference while FCD leave their stadium four points behind Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot with five games left.
The biggest story heading into the match was Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid giving a first MLS start of the season to Steve Zakuani exactly 500 days after suffering a horrific broken leg, and the star winger didn’t disappoint.
In the 20th minute, Zakuani received the ball on the left wing and proceeded to torch FC Dallas right back Zach Loyd. His cross found Mauro Rosales at the back post and the Argentine tapped home his second goal of the season to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
FC Dallas, a side that had to have three points from the match to stay in the MLS playoff race, needed a response, and that’s exactly what they got in the 32nd minute. Unsurprisingly, Panamanian forward Blas Pérez, making his first start after 13 matches out due to injury, was the man for the job. Pérez controlled a cross from Loyd before firing in what looked like a shot towards Michael Gspurning.
The ball found Jackson unmarked at the far post and the Brazilian easily slid the ball home for his third goal of the season. The strike was just the second Seattle have allowed in the last 15 minutes of the first half this season.
As the game, played in sweltering Dallas heat, wore into the second half, FCD began to push forward against a Seattle side that has never lost at FC Dallas Stadium. FC Dallas had a golden chance to take the lead in the 68th minute when some fantastic combination play freed Jackson unmarked at the top of the box. The Brazilian took two touches before sending a low shot without much pace that Gspurning saved well to his right.
FCD pushed hard for the equalizer through David Ferreira and Pérez, but they failed to create another chance as gilt-edged as Jackson’s.
The draw pushes Seattle’s unbeaten streak at FC Dallas Stadium to five games while FC Dallas can look back at just five wins out of 15 home games this season as one of the reasons their playoff hopes are looking slimmer with five games left on the schedule.
After a two-week international break, FC Dallas returns to action with an all-important match against fifth-place Vancouver on Sept. 15. Seattle, meanwhile, return to CenturyLink Field to face Chivas USA on Sept. 8.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Michael Gspurning||Big Austrian made five big saves to help Sounders preserve draw, including two in the late stages.|
|2||Blas Pérez||In first start since returning, gave FCD physical presence up top they'd missed for three months.|
|3||Osvaldo Alonso||Cuban kept midfield tidy, especially as González and Johansson were getting dusted up flanks.|