Ozzie Alonso headed in a goal in the 54th minute and Stefen Frei made a spectacular save in the 90th as the Sounders drew 1-1 with FC Dallas in the first leg of the MLS Cup Western Conference semifinals Sunday night at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. Alonzo’s away goal could prove significant under new rules in effect this year.
In this year’s playoffs, the team with the most road goals in a home-and-home series moves on in case of a tie in aggregate scoring. The Sounders, with that advantage, and FC Dallas meet again next week in the second leg of the semifinals.
The Sounders, top seed in the Western Conference and winner, would have had a victory if Marco Pappa hadn’t committed an ill-advised foul in the 34th minute when he left his feet and took down Andres Escobar in the box. Michel had no trouble blowing the penalty kick past Frei.
But Pappa redeemed himself 20 minutes later when he sent a perfect free kick to Alonso, who headed it past GK Raul Fernandez for the tying goal, Alonso’s third career tally in the playoffs.
Although beaten on that play, Fernandez probably prevented a Seattle rout. He denied a wide-open shot by Obafemi Martins in the 18th minute on a point-blank effort, snuffed Clint Dempsey in the 21st minute and prevented another Martins goal in stoppage time. He finished with seven saves.
Dallas spent the final half hour vigorously attacking and nearly scored in the 90th minute when Fabian Castillo flew past Leo Gonzalez and rocketed a shot that Frei just got a hand on at the near post, barely deflecting away what would have been the winning goal.
Although outshot 12-7, including 8-5 on goal, Dallas dominated time of possession, controlling the clock for 56.8 percent of the match. Dempsey and Martins combined for six of Seattle’s eight shots.
The Supporters’ Shield winner hasn’t doubled as MLS Cup champion since 2011 and has done so just twice in the last 11 seasons . . . The Sounders are 2-1-1 against FC Dallas this season . . . Mauro Diaz, who missed Sunday’s game due to a suspension, will return to Dallas for the second leg.
The teams meet in the second leg of the aggregate series at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at CenturyLink Field (NBCSN).