Dallas Soccer: Mauro Rosales
The depth of their defense has helped in both situations.
Seattle looks to match a franchise record with its fifth consecutive victory when it visits struggling FC Dallas on Wednesday.
The Sounders (6-1-1) will be playing their fourth game in 12 days, then they'll return home for a Western Conference showdown with Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Fredy Montero assisted on Mauro Rosales' goal in the 63rd minute this past Saturday to give Seattle a 1-0 victory over Philadelphia and its fourth straight win.
Seattle won a team-record five in a row Sept. 18-Oct. 15, 2010.
"Three games in a week is not an easy task, but we came out with nine points which is something that we are very happy about," coach Sigi Schmid told the team's official website. "I thought we had chances to get more than one goal and we were a bit unlucky. One day those floodgates will open up."
The Sounders haven't had to score much given how well their defense has played. They've outscored opponents 6-1 during their winning streak and they've posted five shutouts this season.
Schmid has used a rotation of seven defenders, allowing him to keep the defense somewhat fresh during a tough stretch of games. He's started six different four-player combinations, and the Sounders have allowed a league-low three goals.
"I really think we have seven starters," Schmid said regarding the depth of the defense. "It's a team effort when you get a shutout. It's not just the defenders, it's everyone together."
Bryan Meredith earned a shutout in his first MLS start Saturday in place of the injured Michael Gspurning, who will miss at least the next two games after aggravating a right hip injury in the first half of a 2-0 win over Los Angeles last Wednesday.
"I thought Meredith did a great job in goal and dealt with the things he needed to deal with," Schmid said. "Our defense did a good job of keeping things away from him."
He'll be in net again versus Dallas (3-4-3), which dropped to 0-2-2 in its last four with a 2-0 loss to Colorado on Sunday.
As if the recent struggles weren't enough, Dallas went down two men in the first half when Daniel Hernandez got his second yellow card in the 34th minute before Blas Perez was given a red card for what the referee deemed a reckless play in the 36th minute.
Each will serve a one-game suspension Wednesday for a Dallas team that's allowed 14 goals -- tied with Los Angeles for most in the West.
"We won't be putting our best team on the field because of the red cards and the injuries," coach Schellas Hyndman told the team's official website. "But I know I have a lot of guys in the locker room looking for an opportunity, and so they'll be given that opportunity."
Seattle is 1-0-2 all-time at Dallas, winning 1-0 in the most recent meeting Aug. 20 when Montero assisted on Rosales' goal in the 16th minute.
Seattle's tactics on Saturday seem even more familiar when looked at in context of the earlier MLS encounter between the two teams. In that mirror-image 1-0 Dallas victory, the victors managed only 33% of possession, with Brek Shea and Andrew Jacobson combining on a counter to notch the lone goal. Saturday, Mauro Rosales and Freddy Montero produced a similar goal on a counter that originated from an almost identical location on the pitch.
The 16th minute tally, like Shea's goal in Seattle, occurred against the run of play. Up to that point, Dallas had attempted 63 passes, Seattle 40. Ugo Ihemelu's botched clearance on the sequence only added insult to injury.
The home side maintained a similar possession advantage for the rest of the match. Dallas completed 92 more passes than Seattle, including a 16 passes completed advantage after Daniel Cruz's puzzling second yellow card.
And it's not as if Seattle didn't have the shape or personnel to attempt a possession-minded strategy. Schmid's 4-4-1-1 allowed withdrawn forward Freddy Montero space in front of the center backs, as the diminutive but spry Michael Fucito constantly dragged one of the center backs wide. Schmid trusted his defense to hold firm, hoping that a lone goal would lead to a full three points.
And, for the most part, Seattle's defending was solid. But right back Zach Scott did his best to allow Dallas to equalize. Scott's 5 fouls conceded (including a yellow card), topped his team's chart. While Scott did a decent job bothering Shea, he struggled to find proper positioning whenever another attacker moved to the flank. Maicon Santos exploited Scott's lax defending and completed 7 of his 19 passes left of center.
But as a team, Seattle produced an overall solid defensive effort. Center back Jhon Hurtado made a brilliant tackle to deny Shea an early 1 on 1 with Kasey Keller, the entire backline made a few key clearances, and Keller made a fantastic save in injury time.
The upcoming US Open Cup semifinal should produce similar heroics, though hopefully Hyndman, not Schmid, will come out on top.
Blake Owen is the editor and publisher of futbolforgringos.com.
In a game that was worth a place in the standings, FC Dallas looked a little tired and a little lost in defense, leading to a 1-0 loss to Seattle Sounders on Saturday night. With the win Seattle moves ahead of FC Dallas into 2nd place in the Western Conference.
In many ways FCD controlled play, out-shooting Seattle 24 to 9, but Seattle scored the 3rd earliest goal of the season against the Red Stripes (all three losses) in minute 15 and FCD couldn't match it.
Seattle scored when Ugo Ihemlu muffed an interception, handing the ball to Fredy Montero. Jair Benitez rushed over to cover, perhaps forgetting Ihemelu's recovery pace, thus leaving Mauro Rosales uncovered for Monterno to set up for the goal.
FCD played from the 56th minute on down a man after Daniel Cruz received a second yellow for diving and was sent off. Cruz had previously been booked for a reckless tackle earlier in the game. "I feel very bad because it was the first time I played here for our supporters." said Cruz. "We lost the game and it was a decisive moment in the game when I went out, when I got the red card.
With George John suspended, Zach Loyd started at center back only to injury his hamstring and have to come off. Right back Jackson shifted to the middle and brand new FCD defender Jeremy Hall was forced into emergency right back duty despite never having trained with FCD. Coach Hynmdan indicated he had time for a short chalkboard session with Hall pre-game and that was it. The patchwork FCD defense didn't perform to badly, allowing only the one goal, but they didn't look sharp all night.
"We just have to adjust," Ihemelu said after the game. "It comes down to communication and trusting the guy beside you. We're going to have to build that trust and just get an understanding as quickly as possible because games are coming quick right now."
Kasey Keller came up with several outstanding saves, including one at the death knell of the game, to preserve the win. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid was quick to praise his keeper, "Not big, he came up huge. He made a huge save at the end of the day for us. He also dealt a lot with the crosses and made sure we stayed marked up."
SEA – Mauro Rosales (Fredy Montero) 15
DAL – Daniel Cruz (caution; reckless tackle) 3
SEA – Erik Friberg (caution; tactical foul) 6
DAL – Ugo Ihemelu (caution; reckless foul) 27
DAL – Daniel Cruz (caution; simulation) 56
DAL – Daniel Cruz (ejection; second caution) 56
SEA – Fredy Montero (caution; reckless foul) 60
SEA – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution; handball) 94+
FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Jair Benitez, Ugo Ihemelu Zach Loyd (Jeremy Hall 24), Jackson (Fabian Castillo 73), Brek Shea, Daniel Hernandez (Bruno Guarda 81), Daniel Cruz, Ricardo Villar, Marvin Chavez, Maicon Santos.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Andrew Jacobson, Bobby Warshaw, Jack Stewart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 24 (Brek Shea 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Marvin Chavez, Maicon Santos, Ugo Ihemelu, Bruno Guarda 1); FOULS: 18 (Ricardo Villar 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 10 (Ricardo Villar 9); SAVES: 1 (Kevin Hartman 1).
Seattle Sounders FC – Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg (Brad Evans 63), Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Pat Noonan 78), Fredy Montero (Alvaro Fernandez 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Roger Levesque, James Riley, Tyson Wahl.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Fredy Montero 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero 1); FOULS: 22 (Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Zach Scott 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Mike Fucito 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Mauro Rosales 2); SAVES: 4 (Kasey Keller 4).
Referee: David Gantar
Referee’s Assistants: Phillippe Briere, Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Match: 1:53
Weather: Clear, 104 degrees