Dempsey scores in 86th, Sounders beat Dallas 2-1 in West semifinal opener

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SEATTLE — Clint Dempsey just felt it was the right time for him to take the free kick.

Andreas Ivanschitz wasn't going to argue with him.

Dempsey broke a tie on a direct free kick in the 86th minute in the Seattle Sounders' 2-1 comeback victory over FC Dallas on Sunday in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal.

Ivanschitz tied it for fourth-seeded Sounders with an unassisted goal in the 67th minute. Fabian Castillo opened the scoring for top-seeded Dallas in the 18th minute.

The second leg of the series is next Sunday in Frisco, Texas. The Sounders would advance to the West final with a win or a tie.

The free kick was set up when Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan went to the turf on a collision with Dallas' Matt Hedges. Dempsey and Ivanschitz were both standing over the ball after it was set up.

"We were just trying to figure out who was going to take it. I was feeling confident and just wanted an opportunity to try to help the team," said Dempsey, who also had a goal Wednesday night in a 3-2 knockout-round victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. "I said, 'I feel good, I want to take it. I think it's on to go near post.'"

That's exactly where Dempsey went with it, putting it just beyond the reach of leaping goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

"I'm very happy he took it. It was a perfect touch, a perfect free kick," Ivanschitz said. "It's just that in this moment, it felt like it was his moment, so I let him shoot. We have two or three very good players on set pieces, and that's a good advantage for us."

The Sounders spent most of the game just trying to catch up after Castillo put Dallas on top.

Castillo, playing on the attacking left side, sped past Seattle defender Zach Scott to catch up with a through ball from Mauro Diaz. Castillo took it into the penalty area and, from just outside the top left corner of the 6-yard box, drove a shot into the far right corner past Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.

That was Dallas' first goal in three games against the Sounders this year after a 0-0 tie in Texas and a 3-0 loss in Seattle during the regular season.

Ivanschitz pulled Seattle even midway through the second half. He picked up a loose ball near midfield, dribbled untouched to the top left corner of the box, and fired into the far side of the net.

"The guys put in three games in a week, and we scored eight goals in those three games," said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, whose team went unbeaten in its last eight regular-season games (4-0-4) and has two straight playoff wins. "Today, we got another set piece goal, and we had a set piece goal against the Galaxy (on Wednesday), so those are goals that sometimes win a game.

"Our guys put in a masterful effort," Schmid added. "I thought at the end of the game, we looked fresher than they did, and they haven't played for a week.

It was just the second time this season Dallas has lost after scoring the first goal, and was just the second time the Sounders have won after conceding first.

"I thought we played excellent today. We ended up just giving away two goals," Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. "The first one I thought was a great play by Ivanschitz. And the second one, it wasn't a foul, period. It wasn't a foul, and as big as the stage is, you cannot give that. It's incorrect. I thought out boys did a fantastic job, especially in the first half. We were more consistent in the first half. In the second half, we still had some chances."

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