With the MLS Cup Playoffs comes a series against a team that Seattle already played three times. This means that there is a lot of past data to go through. At this point both sides know how the other team plays. FC Dallas uses foot speed and dead balls. Seattle Sounders FC are experts at pushing transition through rapid passing.
Both sides have variants, but these are the baselines. Matthew Doyle lays it out so well at MLSSoccer.com. He indicates that Seattle needs to prevent Andres Escobar and Fabian Castillo from getting their space to run. Dallas will be forced to deal with Clint and Oba shoving it right down the middle.
By goal differential neither team holds an edge.
Defensively FCD leans heavily on Matt Hedges. He commands their line and was mostly responsible for controlling Dempsey and Martins in September. Then, as now, Michel remains a mystery man who can be meaningless for an hour and change the game in moments. In run-of-play he hasn't changed what Seattle does either in the attack or on defense.
Mauro Diaz will not play Sunday night. He earned his punishment for entering the field. This is not the first time that the Hoops had to deal without their playmaker against Seattle. Back in May that change was also known. It meant that Dallas had to count on Castillo and Blas Perez, just as they will tonight. This puts pressure on DeAndre Yedlin and the man who happens to be the right mid at the time
That right side will be an advantage in the attack for Sounders FC. Michel generally plays as the left sided of the two CDMs. But as was the case at the beginning of the year and is still so, he's not actually that good at preventing shot opportunities. Look for Seattle to flood that side a bit more than usual, though that will leave space for Castillo to operate.
That's where the away goal rule comes into play. If the Sounders manage a road draw with goals scored they carry the initiative home with them for round five.