Leg one of the Western Conference Finals is Seattle’s chance to get their first win in Houston. In their previous eight meetings in Houston, the Sounders are 0-4-4. The Sounders haven’t dominated on the road this season, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that Tuesday will be the day they get their first win at BBVA Compass Stadium.
There are plenty of reasons to think the Sounders get the win, and we all took a few sentences to explain how we see the Rave Green coming back with a lead.
Finally healthy, Seattle has the talent to overrun a questionable backline in Houston. After seeing Houston go on the road and advance over Portland, the Sounders will push for a goal and a win to prevent coming home tied or behind. I’m betting on Victor Rodriguez having a breakout game and Jordan Morris scoring off the bench.
The 2017 Seattle Sounders, led by Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro, are as versatile in the attack as ever. Even though Houston got away with a 0-0 home draw in the last matchup, they likely know attempting the same trick against Seattle would be near suicide. Expect a more open game, and Seattle's rested attack to take advantage.
Despite playing away on a sub-par pitch, the Seattle Sounders are well-rested, somewhat healed up, and ready for a battle in East Texas. Houston will hold strong at home, but their desire to snatch a goal will open up holes in the defense that some combination of Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro, and Victor Rodriguez will exploit and punish. The match might look even on paper, but Seattle will come out on top. I expect a tight win for Seattle in Houston, ahead of a dominant performance in the return leg.
Joevin Jones and Kelvin Leerdam versus Jalil Anibaba and one of DaMarcus Beasley or Dylan Remick. If Schmetzer wants to dominate wide play in hopes to pin back the Dynamo wingers, he has the personnel to do so.
Two words: Clint Dempsey. Deuce didn’t get to take the field in the playoffs last season. He didn’t get to play in the Cup. He sat on the sideline for most of the match as the United States’ World Cup hopes slipped away. The most dangerous goal scorer in USMNT history isn’t flying down to Houston to lose.
I’m inclined to trust a great defense on the road more than a powerful offense, and this might be the best defense the Sounders have ever had. Since July 23, they’ve allowed just eight goals in 16 matches and posted 10 shutouts. Sure, they’ll need to score to get the win, but just a moment or two of brilliance should be enough.
Since the fairly embarrassing 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on May 18, the Sounders have gone 12-4-7 with +17 GD, a whole season pace of 65 points and +25 GD. For the last two thirds of the season, the Sounders have been one of the two best clubs in MLS, and Houston has not. The better team doesn’t always win, but if you have to pick a team, you should usually pick the better team.
In the first half of the Sounders 2-1 loss to Houston in March, Houston notched 14 shots. In the subsequent 135 minutes of play this season, the Sounders allowed just 13 shots against Houston. Defense is the key to winning and the Sounders have one of the best defenses in MLS.
We're Sounders. We travel and we do it well — a Tuesday in Houston doesn't change that. The boys will be serenaded (hopefully to a win) by a section of Rave Green that will drown out the mass of orange seats and the cacophony of revolting trumpets.
Queen of Cascadia
Cristian Roldan. Houston doesn't have a Cristian Roldan. We do, and we won't share.
There’s little chance fullback attacking play is going to pull Houston’s wings back, so the key will be driving the central midfield deeper into defense and sideways in transition to limit threatening long balls and the number of runners. Roldan and Svensson have the chops to pull this off, and I think they’ll be successful in funneling the ball sideways and pinning Houston’s attack to one side or the other. The Sounders will likely struggle to find space on offense, but the quick feet of Rodriguez, Dempsey, and Lodeiro should afford the team some finish-able chances. Seattle just has too much on offense and defense for a Houston team that really feels like it hit the limits of its talent last round against a short-handed Portland side.
While the Sounders took the international break to get healthy and rested, the Dynamo had key players Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis, and Boniek Garcia playing the biggest two games of their lives and losing. Honduras hosted Australia in a playoff for the last spot in the World Cup on November 10th with the return leg in Sydney on November 15th. For a team that is going to rely on it’s Honduran attacking players to break down a stout Sounders defense, that’s a lot of flight miles and disappointment to recover from.
1. Winter is coming, and we are of the North
2. ClinTorShallDeiroS FreRolV8erDamHou
The addition of a healthy Victor Rodriguez is going to cause all sorts of trouble for Houston’s backline. His movement — combined with Nico Lodeiro running all over the field and the overlapping runs of the outside backs — is going to be too much for the Dynamo defenders. They’ll also channel the energy of another Seattle hero, Kim Little, who loves to embarrass defenders at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Ethan Swenson (resident party pooper but all-around good guy)
Sadly, Seattle won’t win tonight, but first, let me explain: right before center referee Chris Penso blows the whistle for kickoff, each Sounders player will be simultaneously visited by the Ghosts of MLS Cup Past during which they will be taken on a journey that will show the highs and lows of MLS Cup Playoffs Past, first starting with the Sounders previous playoff matchup against Houston; following this visually interactive retelling of history, the Ghosts of MLS Cup Present will show the current Sounders players the fact that they’re literally just standing still on the field while Houston players confusedly kick the ball back and forth to each other as medical personnel inspect the seemingly catatonic Sounders; that brief thanks-for-showing-me-that-but-I-don’t-understand-the-pertinence interlude will be followed by a visit from the Ghosts of MLS Cup Playoffs Future, which will show the very same statuesque Sounders springing back into life, just in time, where with renewed vim and vigor, spurred on from the memories of distant playoffs, they manage to salvage a draw, afterward moving on to Seattle where they successfully advance to the Finals. As a fan, it’s very frustrating to watch.