MLS Playoffs: Jesse Gonzalez Penalty Heroics Sends FC Dallas To Western Conference Final

At 20 years of age homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez made two penalty stops – pushing aside Adreas Ivanchitz’ shot away from goal and catching Chad Barrett’s penalty – to send FC Dallas through to the Major League Soccer Western Conference Final.

Three goals in the final six minutes, two Dallas substitutes Tesho Akindele and Walker Zimmerman, sandwiched Chad Marshall's goal to level things on aggregate which forced this enthralling encounter to go to penalties.

From the moment the referee blew his whistle, there was something brewing in the heart of Texas with Dallas pushing up the pitch immediately. It took a little while for either side to get something positive in the final third of the pitch. Dallas won two consecutive corners before the 15th minute and although neither troubled Stefan Frei, this was a warning as to what would unfold throughout the 90 minutes.

Seattle were getting mere half-chances in the opening half and with 13 minutes remaining until halftime, Tyrone Mears squared his pass back towards the middle of the penalty area but failed to find the feet of either Clint Dempsey or Obafemi Martins who were making runs to the six yard box.

Obafemi Martins played in Nelson Valdez, right before the halftime interval, where his deflected shot nearly found its way into the back of the net that Gonzalez had to tip over the crossbar to keep things level.

Six minutes after the restart and Tyrone Mears nearly gave Dallas a gift of a goal. He slipped, which allowed Fabian Castillo to win possession and work his way easily into the danger zone but his shot was weak and it fell straight into the arms of Frei. A minute later, the Swedish goalkeeper made a very good reaction save stopping the ball with his left foot.

Even though there was constant pressure being built by the home side, Seattle’s defense was up to the challenge, not allowing much to get through to Stefan Frei. However, even though it looked like Victor Ulloa went down a little easily, Dallas won a free kick in a very dangero4us position just outside the area but the Sounders cleared their lines eventually.

Finally, all the build-up paid off as Dallas pushed their attack down the right side through Je-Vaughn Watson. His cross towards the middle of the area finds the head of Akindele and the Canadian rookie redirected the ball into the back of the net with six minutes remaining.

That lead would last all but six minutes as Seattle would score off of a corner kick as well. The ball was not cleared by Dallas and it eventually fell to Chad Barrett and the veteran central defender nodded his shot into the top left corner of the net.

Sigi Schmid and the rest of the Sounder faithful must have felt that they were going to advance into the next round of the Major League Soccer playoffs but Walker Zimmerman had other ideas. Blas Perez initially headed the ball into the area but Zimmerman got the final touch on the ball near the six yard box leveling aggregate for good.

Dallas is still awaiting the winner of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers match, but they will still get the second leg at home as they finished the season atop of the Western Conference table.

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