The Seattle Sounders head into the second leg of their best-of-3 first-round tie with FC Dallas riding an impressive 10-game unbeaten streak and coming off two of the best games they’ve played all season. The 2-0 win in Game 1 against Dallas was particularly impressive as the Sounders looked like a team that had people going to start the season from whistle to whistle.
Entering this first game, Seattle and Dallas looked pretty evenly matched when looking at each other: They had scored an identical 41 goals in the regular season, and Dallas’ defense was slightly less impressive, allowing 37 goals to the Sounders’ 32. Both teams even came into this game on nine-game unbeaten streaks, and the two regular-season meetings between the two ended 1-1.
However, Dallas was plagued with injuries, missing several key midfield players and only managed to bring in Bernard Kamungo — a dynamic breakout player who had scored Dallas’ only goal when they came to Seattle and was coming off an impressive performance with the U.S. Under-23 Team — left the bench late. Their injury situation got much worse when Alan Velasco left the game with what turned out to be a torn ACL in the 18th minute.
Playing for their lives in the playoffs at home and missing their star player, I would expect FC Dallas to try to bridge the obvious talent gap with what we’ll call “enthusiasm.” They will need Jesus Ferreira to be closer to his best than he has been for most of this season, and guys like Camungo, Jader O’Brien and Paul Arriola will likely need to step up. to give their team a chance to force a Game 3 . On the Rave Green side of things, if the defense stays at the level it’s been at over the past 10 games — and when I say “defense” here, I mean less the five or the six players closest to Stefan Fry’s goal and more of the whole team’s defense so effectively limiting quality chances for the opposition – the Sounders will find their chances and it’s much easier to win when you have a shot at the back.
It will be a tough game, almost certainly, but good teams win tough games. Great teams can make tough games look easy, and this is a group that is absolutely capable of that.
+1 – The Sounders had a +1 goal difference when playing away in MLS this season, outscoring their opponents 22-21 away from Lumen Field.
The Sounders aren’t playing with house money and the tension is certainly not down, but the atmosphere is definitely good. Somewhere in a hotel in the Frisco area, Raul Ruidiaz is almost certainly playing “Pepas” by Farruco on a Bluetooth speaker and getting the boys’ minds right. FC Dallas will bring a lot of energy and tenacity, but Seattle can handle that and should open the game in a way that especially suits the attacking talents at Brian Schmetzer’s disposal. It will be a tough game, but the Sounders should feel good about their ability to wrap up this streak in two games.
- Reid Baker-Whiting is still out for this one, but aside from the young fullback, the Sounders should be as healthy as they’ve been all season. There’s no better time to be in your best shape.
- The injury suffered by Allen Velasco on a slide-ball collision in the first game of the series has now been confirmed as a torn ACL, which will require 9-10 months of recovery. Without their most impactful player, FC Dallas will need Bernard Kamungo to play a bigger role as he continues his comeback from injury if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Audible signals (4-2-3-1): Free; Knowhow, Ragen, Yejmar, A. Roldan; John Paul, Attention; Chu, Rusnak, C. Roldan; Morris
FC Dallas (4-3-3): Ground; Farfan, Tafari, Ibeaga, Thomas; Fraser, Ilaramendi, Pomickal; Arriola, Ferreira, Camungo
Sounders record (2nd in the West): 14-9-11, +9 GD
FC Dallas Record (7th in the West): 11-10-13, +4 GD
Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Starting time: 18:09 Pacific Time
Commentators (AppleTV): Max Bretos and Brian Dunseth