Sounders clinch first-round bye with win over FC Dallas

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SEATTLE — The Sounders have seen just about every trophy elude their grasp this season.

First, it was the CONCACAF Champions League back in March.

Then, over the course of the year, the U.S. Open Cup, Heritage Cup and MLS Supporters’ Shield followed.

Lastly, before Sunday’s regular-season home finale against FC Dallas, Seattle was forced to concede the Cascadia Cup to Portland after the Timbers clinched the fan-sponsored competition among Pacific Northwest rivals in Vancouver.

But one trophy remains. The most important one: MLS Cup.

And with a 3-1 win against Dallas, led by two goals from midfielder Brad Evans, the Sounders helped their cause to that aim by clinching a top-three seed into the Western Conference, thus avoiding the first round of the playoffs.

“I think this was one of the most important games of the year so far,” Evans said. “We made a statement tonight.”

Seattle (15-7-11) will face Real Salt Lake for the second year in a row in the conference semifinals, but which team will have home-field advantage is to be determined.

The Sounders are tied with RSL in the standings, but boast a 51-46 advantage in goals scored, the first tiebreaker. That means a Seattle win the last game of the season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy would almost assuredly clinch the No. 2 seed.

But even while it was nice to look forward after a win, losing the Cascadia Cup still stung.

“We like to get trophies,” said acting coach Brian Schmetzer, who filled in for the suspended Sigi Schmid. “We like to win as much as we can wherever we can.”

“If we can’t give (the fans) that, then we need to give them something else,” added Evans.

Evans broke a 1-1 tie in the 60th minute when he hammered a cross from midfielder Christian Tiffert past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Midfielder Mauro Rosales capped the scoring in the 79th minute when he finished into an open net on a fine pass from forward Fredy Montero, who had two assists.

It marked the second three-goal performance for the Sounders in three games.

“We did an excellent job,” Rosales said. “We have to keep going like this, play the last game, and then try to be at our best level for the playoffs.”

The Sounders opened the scoring in the 32nd minute from an unlikely spot.

Montero was brought down in the penalty area. Evans converted the kick.

FC Dallas (9-13-11) responded in the 40th minute on a goal by forward Blas Perez, his fourth in three games.

The Sounders finished 11-4-2 at CenturyLink Field, their best home record for a season. Seattle, as expected, also established new MLS records this year in average attendance (43,144) and total attendance (733,441) following Sunday’s crowd of 38,755.

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