SEATTLE — For all the offensive stars on the Seattle Sounders' roster, their task Monday night was to show they're just as capable defensively.
Not conceding a goal meant advancing.
Seattle passed its test. Next up: rival Los Angeles.
"We said we were not going to give up a goal. We were going to show that we could defend," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
The Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup Western Conference finals with a 0-0 draw against FC Dallas in the second leg of the conference semifinals. The two-leg series finished tied 1-1 on aggregate but Seattle moved on thanks to its road goal in the first game in Dallas. Road goals were implemented as a tiebreaker this year.
Despite a number of good scoring chances, including Clint Dempsey being denied three times by Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, the Sounders were forced to sweat into the final seconds. But they avoided the perils of the last two Supporters' Shield winners by advancing from the conference semifinals. San Jose in 2012 and New York last season both finished as regular season champions and were bounced in the conference semifinals.
Seattle is moving on and almost on script, it's the Galaxy waiting in the conference finals.
"We knew the road eventually would go through there as they knew the road would probably go through us," Schmid said.
Dempsey and Obafemi Martins both had opportunities to give Seattle a cushion but the match remained tense into stoppage time. Mauro Diaz's free kick from 30 yards in the second minute of stoppage time was bounced around the penalty area and deflected wide for a corner kick that was cleared from danger.
It capped a wild second half where Seattle had the bulk of possession and opportunities but was unable to get a shot past Seitz.
Yet the celebration after advancing to the conference finals for the second time in franchise history was muted.
"Our expectation is to win the MLS Cup," Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlin said. "Anything less than that and we're not satisfied."
Dallas took a 1-0 lead in the first leg on Michel's penalty kick in the first half, but Seattle got the crucial equalizer on Osvaldo Alonso's second-half header that gave the Sounders the road-goal advantage coming home.
Seattle lost Alonso in the 55th minute on Monday with a hamstring injury. Alonso had been playing well helping control Dallas' attack and retaining possession in the midfield.
Dempsey had two shots denied by Seitz in the first half and nearly scored twice in the final 25 minutes. His curling left-footed shot in the 68th minute deflected off a Dallas defender and skipped wide. He was denied in the 84th minute after Dallas defender Matt Hughes misplayed a ball in his own penalty area being pressured by Brad Evans. The ball fell perfectly for Dempsey, but his right-footed shot was kicked away as Seitz dived, leaving Dempsey to extend his hands in disbelief.
"I should have scored at least one of those. I'm frustrated by that," Dempsey said. "I thought we looked good. We didn't just sit back and try to not concede."
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei got the shutout, but Dallas' offensive chances were limited despite the return of Diaz after he was suspended for the first leg. Dallas had only one official shot on goal.
"The opportunities we had to put the ball back of the net, we couldn't," Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said.