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Sounders at Houston Dynamo Western Conference Finals leg one, recap: Early domination leads to cruise control

Seattle scored first and didn’t look back in the 2-nil win.

MLS: Western Conference Championship-Seattle Sounders at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders did not sit back and accept Houston Dynamo pressure. Instead they possessed and pressured, setting a strong tone - playing more like Brian Schmetzer does at home. On their second corner of the match Gustav Svensson opened the scoring (11’, assisted by Nicolas Lodeiro).

Just 15 minutes later Lodeiro fed Joevin Jones a perfect throughball. Jalil Anibaba pulled Jones down to prevent a 1-v-1, but it was in the box. That stopped the attack, sent Seattle to the penalty spot, and Anibaba to the showers with a red (28’). Lodeiro’s penalty was less than perfect, and perfectly saved by Joe Willis.

But! A Sounders side up a man and a goal possessed the ball purely and didn’t stop threatening. The team found success again near halftime when Will Bruin scored in the 42nd minute (Jones assisted).

On cruise control, they were able to rest Clint Dempsey, who left at half in favor of re-integrating Victor Rodriguez to the squad. It took a bit for the team to reacquaint with each other after the sub, but Rodriguez improved the defense and the possession. They possessed purposefully through much the second 45 minutes. There was occasionally danger created - and even a few how-did-that-not-go-in moments - but ultimately no more goals.

Schmetzer brought on Lamar Neagle (for Jones in the 79th) and Henry Wingo (for Bruin in the 91st) as well. The two helped maintain strong offensive pressure on a desperate Houston side that was pushing hard for at least a single goal.

Houston will be without Jalil Anibaba (red) and Alberth Elis (yellow card accumulation) for the return leg. Neither are a small loss for Houston, who will now be down to their third string right back and missing their most dangerous attacker. The match wasn’t without a downside for Seattle - the Sounders will be without Roman Torres (yellow card accumulation), who picked up a yellow in the dying minutes of the match to hit the limit.

The second leg is on Thursday November 30 at 7:30 PM at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders will advance to their second straight MLS Cup with any win and any draw. The vital two away goals mean that Seattle would also advance on any one goal loss.

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