The Seattle Sounders somehow hung on to a 1-0 lead picked up in the 16th minute to take a big three points from a very strange game in Dallas. The first half was quite physical and at the break much much of the conversation seemed to be whether or not Seattle would finish with all 11 men as the physical (though rarely crossing the line towards dirty) play of FC Dallas was clearly beginning to frustrate the Sounders. In a surprising (to say the very least) development, it was the home side that ended up losing a player after Daniel Cruz-who had previously been booked for a foul in the third minute-was shown a second yellow for simulation in the 56th minute.
While increased punishment of dives is something most fans of the game would be happy to see, this particular call was questionable to say the least. To be fair to referee David Gantar, there wasn't a great deal of contact and almost certainly wasn't a foul on either or Erik Friberg or Osvaldo Alonso and Cruz made little attempt to "sell" the fall; but in a crowded area and while trying to control the ball it certainly seems plausible that Cruz simply lost his balance and went down. The game was called very tight all evening, but in that situation the best thing is to give the player the benefit of the doubt and make no call. It was at the risk of massive understatement a very unlucky break for FC Dallas.
Still, unlucky breaks are a part of the game and over the course of the season they tend to even out. When you're on the receiving end you can't really question it; you've just got to take advantage. And realistically, Seattle didn't. The Sounders were on their heels for the entirety of the second half. The defense played well and Kasey Keller made several phenomenal saves, but Seattle's midfield was not able to string together passes or control possession despite the man advantage. Seattle's chances to put the game out of reach were few and far between while the Toros spent the majority of their time in the Sounders' end. Some of the final statistics are shocking and very much unlike what we've come to expect from Seattle; 60.3% of the possession to Dallas and 25 shots for the home side compared to 8 for Seattle. In short, FC Dallas lost this game in the same fashion the Sounders have lost some of their most frustrating games of the season.
There's no sense in mincing words; the Sounders were lucky to escape with a point. They might even be lucky to escape with any points. But they played well enough in the attacking phase early on and in the defensive phase all game long to put themselves in a position to get lucky. This was just a weird game, one that was more about the referee (even before the sending off of Cruz) than two of the best teams in MLS. And that's very unfortunate. But ultimately, Seattle managed to get out of Texas with a very big and at least somewhat unexpected three points. After some of the games the in which the Sounders somehow managed to drop points this season, no one should be asking too many questions; just be thankful.