By CALEB SONNELAND
As the rain fell for the third straight game day in Seattle, FC Dallas held its ground to sneak a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field through a first-half Brek Shea goal. The goal, Shea's fourth of the season, helped Dallas stretch its unbeaten streak to seven games, while Seattle finished a three-game homestand at 1-1-1 having only scored two goals.
FC Dallas kept the same starting lineup that drew Real Salt Lake over the weekend and turned in its fifth consecutive shutout. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman's shutout streak is now at 489 minutes, the longest in MLS this season.
The Sounders welcomed Erik Friberg back to the starting XI, as the Swede took up the right side of the midfield for Seattle. Coach Sigi Schmid also swapped fullbacks James Riley and Tyson Wahl in favor of Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez, and Mike Fucito completed the changes as he got the nod ahead of Roger Levesque up top.
Shea, the team's leading scorer, gave Dallas all the offense it would need in the 18th minute. He was found by a great ball in midfield from Andrew Jacobson, and he clipped it over an on-rushing Kasey Keller to give his team the lead and his fourth goal of the season.
Seattle responded well to going down a goal and pressed hard through Fucito, who was a handful for the Dallas back line all half. The Harvard product had several attempts on goal, one of which was cleared off the line by George John with Hartman beat.
"I was very pleased with the effort of Fucito, I thought he played really well," Schmid said after the game.
The home side continued to probe for an equalizer, but the Dallas defense held strong throughout and took a 1-0 lead into the break. The scoreline was perhaps a bit unkind to Seattle, but Dallas did create enough chances to deserve their goal.
Unchanged at the half, the Sounders came out energized and looked to get on the score sheet in the opening minutes of the second period, but nothing came to fruition and Dallas worked its way back into the half.
Despite enjoying the lion's share of possession, Seattle couldn't find a way past Hartman, who was immense in net all night for Dallas and pulled off a great double save on Fucito and Fredy Montero in the 66th minute to keep his shutout streak alive.
Seattle had two penalty claims late in the half, but referee Baldomero Toledo was having none of it as Friberg and Fucito looked to have been felled inside the area.
"Toledo is a referee who lets the game go. You're not going to get fouls flopping around the field. Jackson was kicking everyone in sight, but he's not going to call it. But we have to be strong and return it in kind."
The Sounders pressed hard in the closing minutes, but thanks to some resolute defending and Hartman heroics, FC Dallas held on for the win and another three points as it continues its impressive season.
"The soccer was better, but everybody is more disappointed with the result," Schmid said. "But guys who need to step up, need to step up."
The Seattle coach was likely referring to the team's Designated Player, Montero, and summarized the striker's night by saying, "He needs to score. End of story. That's what he's paid to do. He's a good enough player, he knows that."
Montero, however, was quick to deflect criticism from his coach.
"What concerns me is the opportunities. I need them," Montero said. "There were no opportunities and that gets me a little sad and annoyed. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities and that is something that can be improved."