It’s becoming a recurring theme already in the 2014 season that Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid touts his club’s character after a match. Now the players are buying in and celebrating that character, too.
Once again, Sounders FC had its mettle tested on Saturday at Toyota Stadium when it fell behind 2-1 to league-leading FC Dallas. And once again, Seattle came away with a result, storming back for a 3-2 win on two goals from Clint Dempsey and a third coming off of an own-goal set up by a dangerous ball from Dempsey.
“Guys are willing to battle for each other. We have a never say die attitude, which is great,” defender Chad Marshall said. “We are going to work the entire 90 minutes-plus to fight for each other and get the best result we can.”
Sounders FC was able to pick apart the Dallas defense in the second half, but it took a tremendous effort in that second 45 minutes because of some lapses in the first half.
Dallas opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
On a high bouncing ball in the back, the ball eluded the reach of goalkeeper Stefan Frei, leaving David Texeira alone in front of an open net. He casually touched it into the net for the goal and Sounders FC fell behind 1-0.
Seattle pulled that goal back in the 22nd minute, though. On a free kick from 30 yards out, Dempsey put a blistering effort into the top right corner, hitting it off the bottom of the crossbar and in for his fifth goal of the season to even the tally at 1-1.
However, Dallas continued to pour on the pressure, outshooting Seattle 11-2 in the first half and the persistent balls into the box from the home side eventually got it a second goal.
On a scrum in the box, DeAndre Yedlin was shown a yellow card when he bumped off Texeira and FC Dallas was awarded a penalty kick, which was converted by Michel in the 42nd minute.
Even down 2-1 at the half, Seattle was filled with confidence that tables would tilt in its direction in the second half.
“I knew if we battled and kept it reasonable in the first half that we were going to have chances in the second,” Marshall said.
Seattle evened things back up in the 75th minute and was the benefactor of some good fortune in the process. Marco Pappa played the ball across the box to Dempsey on the right side and Dempsey cut the ball back across the goal mouth, bound for Obafemi Martins at the far post. However, Stephen Keel got his foot to it in an attempt to clear it and instead knocked it into the net for an own goal, making it 2-2.
Then, after Frei made a one-handed stop of a close-range shot from Texeira in the 83rd minute, Dempsey put away another goal in the 85th minute.
On a great string of possession, Seattle took the lead on the second goal of the match by Dempsey. Pappa got into space on the left side and played the ball to Martins at the top of the box. He moved the ball through to Dempsey, who turned and played Chad Barrett in up the right side. Barrett found Dempsey with a return ball and he hit it first-time into the net for his league-leading sixth goal of the season.
“It wasn't pretty. I thought Dallas played really well,” Dempsey said after the match. “We've got to work on some things, but I thought we showed a lot of character coming back twice in the game, and ultimately getting the win so that's a good thing to build upon. We'll sharpen up and we’ll get better.”
Even after that comeback, it would still take a tremendous effort from Frei to secure the three points.
Mauro Diaz got into the box up the right side in second-half stoppage time, but his attempt on goal was knocked away by the on-coming Frei, then cleared by Leo Gonzalez. Sounders FC held on for the 3-2 win, improving to 3-2-1 on the season and 2-0-1 away from home.
“It’s really nice to be playing on a team where we’ve all got each other’s backs and we’re working for each other. If someone makes a mistake we’re trying to step up and cover for that person. I’m just really excited we are able to get the win and in the end I was able to help the team a little bit as well,” Frei said. “We're not making it easy on ourselves. We need to fix those issues a little bit because you can't give up three to four goals every game, but I think the games are really important for us as a show of character when you can keep your heads up and keep plugging away and trying to step up and help one of your teammates out, it shows a lot of character. I'm very proud of the guys.”
Sounders FC is tied for second in the Western Conference with 10 points, level with the Colorado Rapids (3-1-1) and Real Salt Lake (2-0-4) and just three points behind Dallas (4-1-1).