Given the travel from the Caribbean, the injuries and the heat — 100 degrees at game time — a 1-1 draw at Dallas FC in a physical MLS contest was a worthy outcome for Sounders FC Sunday night in Frisco, TX.
The Sounders were also upbeat because of the return to the starting lineup of Steve Zakuani, who missed the previous 499 days after his leg was broken in a violent foul in Colorado.
His return was more than sentiment: He assisted on the Sounders’ goal.
Zakuani, one of the club’s most popular players, flashed his trademark speed in the 2oth minute, blowing by Dallas defender Zach Loyd to deliver a cross that paralleled the goal mouth until it reached Mauro Rosales, who had an the easy tap-in.
The lead lasted only 12 minutes, when Dallas’s Blas Perez corralled a pass, pivoted and delivered a cross past defender Adam Johansson to Jackson, the Brazilian forward, who had a tap-in as easy as Rosales’s.
Thereafter, Dallas (8-12-9) frequently had the upper hand and was more aggressive throughout, but the Sounders’ backline held up against the heat and the pressure. They had to play a man down for several minutes after Osvaldo Alonso was taken from the field after he banged heads with a Dallas player as both pursued an airborne ball. Alonso was bleeding profusely from a scalp cut.
Zakuani played the first 65 minutes in his first substantive game action since the injury.
Coach Sigi Schmid “told me a few days ago I would start,” Zakuani told KONG-TV after the game. “I’m happy. It was a very long time to wait. This heat made it the hardest condition to return in, but I felt good. I’m about at 65 minutes (endurance) and I will get to 90.”
“On the goal, we made good run and was able to find Mauro.”
Dallas had an 8-4 advantage in shots on goal and put serious pressure in the late minutes of regulation as well as stoppage time.
Seattle (12-6-8) is 4-1-1 in its past six league matches and 5-2-3 over its past 10, staying in third place in the West.