FRISCO, Texas – With their longest travel day of the season behind them, the Sounders FC needed a lift when they faced FC Dallas in the sweltering heat of Frisco, Texas, on Sunday.
Steve Zakuani’s first start in 500 days was enough to do the trick as Zakuani set up Seattle’s lone goal in the 20th minute as the Sounders drew Dallas 1-1 to move to third in the Western Conference at 12-6-8.
“We’ve had to go through this week with the traveling, and so forth, and the early morning airport calls, the lack of sleep the guys have had to deal with … I was very pleased with what we showed,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Steve shows that he still has that explosion, the ability to beat people. As he gains confidence hopefully those kind of opportunities will occur more often in the game. He’s shown that he can still do it.”
Zakuani was in the starting lineup as the Sounders took to a 4-3-3 formation and while he would help the Sounders get on the board first, it wasn’t after withstanding some pressure from the home side. Michael Gspurning was there all night to keep Dallas out of the net, but in the eighth minute, he needed a little help from Patrick Ianni, who cleared a header from Andrew Jacobson to keep the match scoreless.
In the 20th minute, Zakuani collected the ball on the left side off a pass from Christian Tiffert. He then burst past Zach Loyd to the endline and slid a ball along the six-yard box to Mauro Rosales charging in at the far post for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 Sounders lead.
“I knew that in this heat I might just get one or two chances to run. When it came, I made sure to take it,” Zakuani said. “I looked up and saw Mauro making a good run at the back post. He was free and it was up to me to find him.”
FC Dallas would equalize in the 32nd minute though. Zakuani had the ball on a run into the midfield and was tackled from behind by Julian de Guzman. With play resuming, Blas Perez sent in a cross from the right side to Jackson alone at the far post for the tap-in, tying it up at 1-1.
Zakuani wasn’t finished though and would have an opportunity to give Seattle a lead in the 64th minute when he got out on the run up the left side on a ball from Fredy Montero. He got 1v1 with Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, but was out of steam and Hartman was able to make the easy save.
That was the end of the night for Zakuani, who finished with 65 minutes in his first start back.
“It was great to see him back with the team and on a good level,” Rosales said. “He was working very hard to come back and you could see the frustration with him a few months ago when he couldn’t be the best player that he really wanted to be. Now we’re very happy for him.”
Both teams would continue to look for the game-winner and in the 68th minute it looked like Jackson may net his second, but Gspurning was there to make the stop, then Seattle cleared the loose ball.
The teams would trade late chances, but were slowed by the hot conditions in Frisco and Seattle was able to remain unbeaten in five matches at FC Dallas Stadium with a 1-1 draw.
The Sounders will host Chivas USA on Saturday at CenturyLink Field in their first home match since a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on August 18.
Sounders FC – Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani) 20.
FC Dallas – Jackson (Blas Perez) 32.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero (caution) 30; Leo Gonzalez (caution) 72; Servando Carrasco (caution) 86.
FC Dallas – George John (caution) 42; Jackson (caution) 56.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco 78), Brad Evans (Marc Burch 88), Christian Tiffert, Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani (Alex Caskey 66).
FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Jair Benitez, George John, Matt Hedges (Hernan Pertuz 58), Zach Loyd, Jackson Goncalves, Andrew Jacobson (Daniel Hernandez 63), Julian de Guzman, Brek Shea (Carlos Rodriguez 86), David Ferreira, Blas Perez.