FC Dallas became the talk of United States soccer this week by doing something unprecedented: going to Mexico and returning with a win.
Heading into CONCACAF Champions League play Wednesday, MLS clubs were 0-21-3 on Mexican soil and the U.S. national team was 0-23-1.
That 48-match winless streak ended with Dallas’ 1-0 victory over Pumas, which loaded its lineup with young players.
“I think at the end of the day it’s good for U.S. soccer,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think it’s probably a little insulting for the teams in Mexico to feel they could field an under-20 team and beat a pro team from up here. I think it’s good that Dallas went down there and made that statement that you’ve got to come up with something better if you want to beat us.”
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For a while last season it looked as if the Sounders might be the first MLS team to break through south of the border as they led 2-0 at Monterrey before losing, 3-2.
“(Mexican teams) have probably 10 times the budget we have, so that kind of speaks for itself,” said Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who made 102 appearances with the U.S. national team. “… It’s a tough task, so congratulations to Dallas to be the first.”
Today, the Sounders get a chance to bring the high-flying Hoops back to earth as the clubs meet in an MLS match at Pizza Hut Park.
Like Dallas, Seattle also got off to a winning start in Champions League this week with a 4-1 home win over Comunicaciones of Guatemala on Tuesday.
“Obviously (those games are) over, and hopefully (Dallas will) have a little bit of a hangover from it,” Keller said. “But at the same time, they did make some changes, we made some changes for our game, so I think both teams are going to be pretty fresh going into (today’s) game.”
This match could prove exceptionally meaningful in the MLS standings. Dallas’ 43 points and Seattle’s 42 put the clubs second and third in league behind Los Angles (48). All three teams have nine regular-season games left.
That gives this Texas showdown meaning in both the Supporters’ Shield race and also for playoff pairings.
If the season ends in its current order, Seattle and Dallas will be paired again in an aggregate-score, home-and-away series.
“Sometimes the schedule works out where you end up playing at different times the team that’s right above you or right around you, and it makes the game just that much more important,” Keller said. “This is one of those occasions. …
“If we can get in there and get a good result, it makes a big difference for the team going forward. But we’re very happy with the way the form has been for the most part. A little hiccup in Houston, but other than that we’ve been really solid the last several months, so we hope to keep it going.”
The clubs also will meet again Aug. 30 in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match at sold-out Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
Sounders FC at FC Dallas, 6 p.m., Ch. 6/16, 99.3-FM (Spanish)
Inside: Gameday preview. B8 SOUNDERS GAMEDAY
SOUNDERS FC (11-5-9; 42 PTS.) AT FC DALLAS (12-6-7; 43 PTS.)
6 P.M., PIZZA HUT PARK; FRISCO, TEXAS
TV: Ch. 6/16. RADIO: 99.3-FM (Spanish).
HEAD TO HEAD: 1-1-3 overall and 0-0-2 at Pizza Hut Park. Dallas won the other meeting this season, 1-0, in Seattle on May 25.
TEAM LEADERS: For Seattle – G 6, Alvaro Fernandez and Fredy Montero; A 7 Mauro Rosales; S 68, Montero; SOG 27, Montero; GAA 1.08, Kasey Keller. For Dallas – G 10, Brek Shea; A 5, Andrew Jacobson; S 61, Shea; SOG 23, Marvin Chavez; GAA 1.04, Kevin Hartman.
NOTES: These clubs have the second- and third-highest point totals in MLS, behind Los Angeles (48). … Dallas is 8-2-3 at home; Seattle is 5-3-5 on the road. … The Hoops lead MLS in shots on goal (337). … Both teams had midweek CONCACAF Champions League matches. Seattle beat Comunicaciones, 4-1, on Tuesday; Dallas beat Pumas, 1-0, on Wednesday. … Dallas defender George John of Shoreline and the University of Washington is out due to red-card suspension. … Dallas acquired defender Jeremy Hall in a trade with Portland on Friday in exchange for midfielder Eric Alexander. … Sounders Servando Carrasco and Tyson Wahl are one caution away from a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation. … The high temperature in Frisco today is expected to be 104 degrees.
QUOTABLE: “They’re in good form. The weather’s going to be rough for us, but no excuses. We can go in, play the way we’re capable of playing, and get some points.” – Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
NEXT: The Sounders visit Monterrey, Mexico, at 5 p.m. Tuesday for their second CONCACAF Champions League group match. Seattle returns to MLS action Aug. 27 at home against Columbus.
Don Ruiz, staff writer