It was a redemptive day for Chris Seitz, the FC Dallas goalkeeper who took a leave of absence last fall to donate bone marrow to a Leukemia patient, as he returned for his first match back. Against the team that drafted him into the league, where he was one of many to sign up on a marrow donor registry in the wake of a teammate’s wife being diagnosed with a rare form of the cancer, Seitz posted a clean sheet in a 2-0 Dallas victory that moved the Toros alone atop the Western Conference standings. As he resumes his quest to earn a starting role in MLS, six years removed from his selection as the 4th overall pick in the 2007 SuperDraft and after helping somebody else fight a much bigger battle, Seitz could not have had a better return to the pitch.
Every team is hard-hit when international fixtures thin roster depth during a match week in MLS. Both Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas were missing their starting goalkeepers; many expected that Real’s Josh Saunders, who was deposed from Los Angeles despite patrolling the goal for the Galaxy in each of their back-to-back MLS Cup victories, would be the difference-maker for the visitors. But instead it was the inspirational return of Seitz that proved the advantage.
Despite the absence of Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman, the Real attack still had plenty to throw at Seitz and had the advantage of possession throughout the match. But the Toros’ goalkeeper smothered Joao Plata’s opportunity 13 minutes in, and continued to alertly prevent all opportunities. Saunders was also cleaning up Dallas’ offensive chances on the other end, and both sides were deadlocked in a scoreless draw at halftime.
The first 25 minutes of the second half were much the same, as both keepers were forced into action and neither offense could crack them. Then Jackson switched fields over to Fabian Castillo in the 70th minute, and the winger barreled in from the left side into the box and uncorked a screamer that rose past Saunders and billowed the top of the net. Seitz stopped Robbie Findley to preserve the lead seven minutes later, but set the table with a juicy rebound for Devon Sandoval to tap in for the equalizer. The keeper was saved by Sandoval’s hesitation and his defender’s outstretched boot.
With less than ten minutes to play, Jackson netted the insurance marker with an astute forward press. As Saunders lazily meandered with the ball, the winger challenged him. Cleanly sliding in for the ball, he tapped it away from the keeper and it coasted into the empty net. The Brazilian had been instrumental throughout the match in steering the offense, his field vision something that Real lacked in their attack all game.
So it wasn’t the ultimate challenge in his first match since playing for the Dallas reserve squad on September 11 last season, but it was a shutout victory for Seitz and FC Dallas. And with the top spot in the Western Conference now theirs and theirs alone, the Toros will hardly be complaining about the circumstances of their victory.
REAL SALT LAKE @ FC DALLAS
FC Dallas Stadium
March 23, 2013
- 70′ — DAL/Fabian Castillo (Jackson)
- 81′ — DAL/Jackson (unassisted)
- DAL (4-2-3-1): Chris Seitz; Jair Benitez (London Woodberry/89′), Matt Hedges, George John, Zach Loyd; Michel, Andrew Jacobsen; Fabian Castillo (Eric Hassli/71′), David Ferreira, Jackson; Kenny Cooper (Bobby Warshaw/84′)
- RSL (4-1-2-1-2): Josh Saunders; Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Lovel Palmer; Yordany Alvarez; Ned Grabavoy, Cole Grossman (Olmes Garcia/77′); Luis Gil (John Stertzer/66′); Robbie Findley, Joao Plata (Devon Sandoval/73′)