Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas: Winners and Losers from MLS Play-off
Seattle Sounders are through to the penultimate round of the Major League Soccer play-offs following Monday's scoreless draw at home to FC Dallas.
Having come out of the first leg of this Western Conference semi-final with a 1-1 draw in Texas, Seattle never needed to score in the return fixture and ended up progressing on the away-goals rule.
Dallas, meanwhile, created plenty of chances on the Pacific Coast but lacked precision in the final third, and at the final whistle questions swirled over manager Oscar Pareja's second-half substitutions.
Overall, several performances stood out from the second leg, as the following slideshow will highlight.
Here are the individual winners and losers from Monday's encounter.
Winner: Chris Seitz, Who Was Named Man of the Match
He came out on the losing side, but Chris Seitz gave FC Dallas every chance to beat Seattle Sounders on Monday.
The goalkeeper made four saves over the course of the 90 minutes—many of the spectacular variety.
Shortly before the half-time break, he denied Clint Dempsey from in close, and with six minutes remaining in normal time, he again robbed the United States international from point-blank range.
ESPN FC columnist and Soccer Morning host Jason Davis rightly remarked via his Twitter account that Seitz had put in a magical performance.
Loser: Baldomero Toledo, Who Botched Two Penalty Decisions
Both Seattle and Dallas should have won penalties on Monday.
Incidentally, had the two spot-kicks been converted the second leg of this Western Conference semi-final would have gone to extra time.
But midway through the first-half referee Baldomero Toledo refused to penalise Sounders defender Zach Scott for an obvious foul on Fabian Castillo, and in the second period Clint Dempsey was denied a clear penalty after being tugged inside the area by Je-Vaughn Watson.
Toledo was far more impactful than he should have been at CenturyLink Field.
Winner: Zach Scott, Who Got Away with a Series of Fouls
First things first.
In general, Zach Scott played a tremendous match for Seattle on Monday. He regularly broke up play when his side used a high line of defense, and he also lent a hand to teammate Leonardo Gonzalez, who had his hands full with FC Dallas winger Fabian Castillo.
It was a foul on Castillo in his own penalty box that was Scott's first let-off of the night, and he also got away with a bit of physicality applied to Andres Escobar in the final minute.
But the 34-year-old did whatever it took to defend his goal at CenturyLink Field, and in the dying minutes he made a vital, headed clearance to Tesho Akindele's searching cross from the left.
Loser: Oscar Pareja, Whose Substitutions Were Curious
Blas Perez was furious as he made way for Andres Escobar in the 80th minute.
Having scored 11 goals during the regular season, the FC Dallas striker would have never imagined he'd be watching the final minutes of the Western Conference semi-final from the bench, although that's exactly where he found himself in the latter stages of Monday's showdown with Seattle Sounders.
Michel, too, was a shock substitution for manager Oscar Pareja, who waited until late in the second half before looking to his bench in an effort to change things up.
The only thing is that, when he did, he ended up withdrawing two of his most influential players.
As Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl remarked via Twitter, there will be plenty of questions regarding Pareja's handling of the match when FC Dallas examine what went wrong.
Winner: Michel, Who Was Imperious Before Being Substituted
Until his curious exit in the 86th minute, FC Dallas midfielder Michel was involved in almost everything his side accomplished on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Texas outfit's preferred set-piece taker, the 33-year-old also contributed seven tackles to the cause and allowed teammate Mauro Diaz a license to operate further upfield (all statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com).
But Michel's biggest contribution to his side's clean sheet was a goal-line clearance from Chad Marshall's header in the 28th minute that kept things level.
Loser: Osvaldo Alonso, Whose Injury Will Hurt Seattle's Chances vs. L.A.
Osvaldo Alonso is Seattle's best ball-distributor, finest organiser and overall smartest player.
So it will have been with no shortage of discomfort that his manager and teammates watched him hobble off the field in the 56th minute with a leg injury.
Los Angeles Galaxy, who await Seattle in the Western Conference final, will have fancied their chances against the Sounders, anyway, and now with Alonso perhaps out for an extended period of time, they'll be boosted even further.
As Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl opined on Twitter, Alonso's potential absence stands to be a "huge problem" for Seattle in the next round of the play-offs.