MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas
The game in 100 words (or less): With the Seattle Sounders’ season seemingly hanging by a thread, tied 1-1 in their home leg of the Western Conference semifinals tie with FC Dallas, Clint Dempsey took it upon himself to step up and play the role of hero in Rave Green. 86 minutes on the clock, an away goal already conceded and no advantage whatsoever to take to Dallas next Sunday, Dempsey’s stunning free kick from 25 yards out completely changed the complexion of the two-leg tie. Fabian Castillo gave FCD an early lead, but it was one onto which they could not hold. Andreas Ivanschitz equalized shortly after the hour mark, setting the stage for Dempsey’s late heroics.
Three moments that mattered
18' — Castillo gets in behind, grabs the away goal — Mauro Diaz to Castillo is so much more than a deadly combination in MLS; it’s a downright unfair advantage possessed by FCD. Diaz’s outside-of-the-foot through ball into acres of space belongs on an instructional video. Castillo did his part, too, poking the eventual shot past Stefan Frei.
67' — Ivanschitz’s low strike sneaks inside the far post — Ivanschitz was allowed to dribble the ball and dribble the ball and dribble the ball until at long last he found the lane through which to shoot he desired. There was still a ton to be done at that point, though, and the placement just inside the far post was extremely impressive.
86' — Dempsey’s stunning free kick gives Seattle a late winner — Dempsey has enjoyed a spectacularly average season, but his game-winning free kick, which might just give the Sounders a big enough advantage ahead of leg no. 2, was good enough to rewrite the tale of his 2015 campaign.
Man of the match: Mauro Diaz
Goalscorers: Castillo (18'), Ivanschitz (67'), Dempsey (87')