FRISCO, Texas—Calling up memories of last season’s Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal, a penalty kick proved the difference between FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders.
“The last two weeks have been hard, just getting two results means a lot for the group,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “You can’t imagine how hard it is just to lift the group up after two losses and [giving up] a bunch of goals – eight goals.”
Michael Barrios added a late insurance goal off a well-placed ball by substitute Mauro Rosales, but it was the Dallas defense that cemented the victory. Dallas earned its first clean sheet since since a March 26 road win against DC United – FCD’s third game of the season.
Dallas denied Seattle any clean looks at goal for much of the game, with valiant efforts from the likes of Zach Loyd and Walker Zimmerman routinely clearing the ball each time it entered the Dallas box.
The timing of the strong performance was fitting for Loyd, who passed Pareja for third place on the club's list of all-time games played.
“Zach today was busy – not that I like that, but I liked the way he responded,” Pareja said. “He’s going to make his confidence grow. He understands his leadership is necessary for this team. He and Walker have had a terrific last two games and have played much better. They should be proud of having a clean sheet today.”
The win also marks the first time since April 13 that FCD scored the game's first goal. Pareja jokingly said his job was easy being able to look up and see the early lead, but having the advantage dictated Dallas’ game tactically.
FC Dallas seemed content resting on their laurels, with Pareja even subbing out lone striker Tesho Akindele for defensive midfielder Kellyn Acosta, and eventually taking out speedster Fabian Castillo for Atiba Harris.
“We stressed that as well, about our struggles early on in games,” Zimmerman said. “To be able to be on the other end of that gives you a lot of momentum for the rest of the game, and I thought we did a good job of carrying that momentum, especially in the first half.”
In just four days time, FC Dallas went from a log jam in the middle of the Western Conference right back toward the top – just one point behind the Colorado Rapids for first place in both the conference and Supporters’ Shield race.
“They deserved the win,” Pareja said. “Six points in a week – that’s a reward for what they did. The effort they did, it was rewarded for sure.”