The victory snaps a six-game winless skid for FC Dallas, which is short-handed without players due to international duty, against a strong Sounders team.
“I’ve got to smile,” FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “It feels good, just cause it’s been a challenging few weeks to get points and I embrace the challenge. It makes us stronger, it makes us grow. I love the process to fight and work and figure things out and together with the boys and with conditions that are not easy and not expected. It’s not easy to have urgency with two hours in the locker room.”
FC Dallas (6-6-3, 21 points) was aided by Seattle defenders on each of its first-half goals. The first, in the 33rd minute, was off some work by Michael Barrios, who was a key factor throughout the match. Barrios beat his defender and played a ball into the box, finding Ryan Hollingshead, whose header was on frame and forced Sounders defender Xavier Arreaga to act, diving to the ball. Arreaga’s header found his own net to give the home side the lead.
Six minutes later, FCD capitalized on another Seattle error. A quick restart off a free kick from Bryan Acosta found the feet of Barrios, who in space played a ball across the box. Seattle defender Brad Smith looked to anticipate the pass but instead knocked it into his own net, giving the team a 2-0 lead going into the break.
The Sounders (7-3-5, 26 points) came out to attack in the second half and cut their deficit in half in the 65th minute. Raul Ruidiaz received the ball outside of the box and put on an effort. Aided by a Matt Hedges deflection, the ball went past Jesse Gonzalez, giving Seattle life late.
“I didn’t see anyone put their heads down,” fullback John Nelson said. “We looked around and said, ‘Alright, we just gotta keep on pushing’, and that’s what we did. We kept playing our game, kept keeping the ball, and going after it.”
It was another opportunity for Dallas to close out a match, something that it has struggled to do throughout the season. Against Portland, in a 2-1 victory, the team almost blew the two-goal advantage. Pitted against another Cascadia foe, Dallas played much the same, not closing out the Sounders with a third goal, but doing enough to not allow the equalizer. It’s part of the process for the team, reacting and responding mid-match to secure victories.
Jun 1, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; A thunderstorm delays the match between FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
“We needed to get possession higher up the field,” midfielder Jacori Hayes said. “We were just in our half for too long at the beginning of the second half. It kinda sucks when you jog in and you’re already getting on the kickoff, but the instructions were the same. Just get possession higher up the field and help the team defensively.”
For forward Dominique Badji, it was a solid shift that did not yield a goal, but did result in a positive performance. After playing striker for most of his career, Badji was asked to play as a winger by Gonzalez. Against Seattle, Badji impacted the game with a defensive presence and versatility, switching to forward when the team elected to make a switch late. He combined with teammates and caused havoc for the Seattle defense late, unlucky to add a third goal for the team.
“He’s played No. 9 for a big part of his career,” Gonzalez said. “He’s showing that he is versatile. He can be a winger or a No. 9. I think that’s the next step in his career, to keep developing and score. Score from a wing position, assist, help us defensively, make movements into open space, whether he’s a No. 7, 11 or nine. There’s a value in playing in the front three and his attitude is fantastic and open to take on the challenge and help the team in that way.”
However, for Gonzalez, the winless streak ending is not time for celebration. It’s a moment in the season that shows progress for the team, which is focused on the now, instead of the past and the future.
“We talk about how we don’t believe in streaks,” Gonzalez said. “It’s game-to-game. It’s training-to-training. It’s day-t0-day. Just bringing our best and learning from yesterday and being the best we can today. If that results in a streak, winning or losing, it is what it is. We wanted to win today. All I know is, whatever happened in the past is in the past. We wanted to win for our fans and for the boys to show that honor and respect for them. It was the given day that we wanted to perform and not walk-off that field without the effort to get the points.”
Dallas will travel to San Jose on June 8 to take on the Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. The Sounders will play midweek, going to Montreal for a clash with the Impact on June 5.