The defending champion Seattle Sounders are one win away from returning to MLS Cup for the fourth time in five years.
The Sounders topped visiting FC Dallas, 1-0, at Lumen Field on Tuesday night in the Western Conference semifinal. A goal from Shane O’Neill early in the second half was all the scoring the Sounders needed to advance to the conference final for the sixth time in nine seasons.
Thursday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United will determine the Sounders’ opponent. Seattle will either host Minnesota United or visit Sporting Kansas City on Monday.
With all the prematch hype surrounding the Sounders’ high-octane attack, it was of course a blue-collar centerback initially signed for depth in the offseason who delivered the only goal in the biggest match of the season. O’Neill rose above defender Thiago Santos in the 49th minute to head a Nicolas Lodeiro corner kick past goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer for the 1-0 lead.
A tight back-and-forth first half saw the Sounders outshoot the visitors 9-4, but neither team managed to put a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes. Ryan Hollingshead perhaps had the best look of the half on a rare FC Dallas counterattack opportunity, but sent his shot well wide of the far post.
FC Dallas created some chances in the second half, but watched Michael Barrios send a shot off the pot before Yeimar Gomez Andrade cleared an Andres Ricaurte shot off the goal line.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Shane O’Neill. At one time a highly-touted young center back for the Colorado Rapids, O’Neill put his career back on track in 2020 and now put the Sounders on the verge of returning to MLS Cup.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Dallas nearly equalized twice in the 64th minute, but Michael Barrios hit the post before Andres Ricaurte’s rebound was cleared off the line by Yeimar Gomez Andrade.
MATCH TO FORGET
It’s hard to knock much of anyone on a sixth-seed that came into Lumen Field and went toe-to-toe with the Seattle Sounders. “We were better on one play,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer after the match. But Thiago Santos was easily screened by Gomez Andrade on the Sounders’ goal, leaving O’Neill free to head home the game-winner.