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Scouting Report: When the bull is weak, grab it by the horns

To stay at the top, this is a must-win game.

Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas: Photos Mike Russell -

What You’ll Watch

The Seattle Sounders hit the road to take on FC Dallas this Saturday. This is the first of two meetings this season. Dallas is winless in their last eight games and Seattle is unbeaten in their last 12.

FC Dallas sits in sixth place of the Western Conference (37 points in 27 games played; 1.37 ppg) while the Sounders now sit in second place (43 points in 28 games played; 1.54 ppg). The last time out, Dallas was throttled on the road by Atlanta United FC 3-0 as they opened up their new stadium. Seattle battled back to earn a point at home against the LA Galaxy.

For a team that started so hot — unbeaten in their first nine games — Dallas as fallen off the deep end. They have won just four games in their last 18 games and have given up 33 goals. If there was time for the Sounders to start converting their shots into goals, this Saturday is the time and place to do it.

Notable Roster Changes

In: Jesus Ferreira, Roland Lamah, Javier Morales, Cristian Colman

Out: Mauro Rosales, Carlos Ruiz, Zach Lloyd, Juan Esteban Ortiz

Current Form


Last Five: L-D-L-D-L with six goals scored; 12 conceded

Top Scorer: Maxi Urruti; 12 goals

Top Assist Leader: Michael Barrios; 13 assists


Last Five: W-W-D-D-D with six goals scored; four conceded

Top Scorer: Clint Dempsey; 11 goals

Top Assist Leader: Joevin Jones; 10 assists

Absences: Injury, international duty, suspension


Dallas has nobody on MLS’ injury report. However, that can change leading up to the game. Matt Hedges and Carlos Gruezo are both one yellow card from a mandatory one-game suspension.


For Seattle, they have two players on this week’s injury report — Brad Evans (lower back pain) and Jordan Morris (right hamstring strain) — and both are listed as out. Roman Torres will sit due to his highly questionable red card he received late in the game against the Galaxy, but Brian Schmetzer said at practice on Wednesday that they did appeal the red card.

What to Watch

Everyone’s sexy pick to win the Western Conference and maybe even claim MLS Cup is suddenly in danger of missing the playoffs after going winless in their past eight. Yes, you read that right, FC Dallas last won a game back on July 22 (a road win over the Montreal Impact).

What happened? A once-solid defense has suddenly started leaking like a sieve, allowing multiple goals in all but one of their last eight. That includes allowing nine in their past four matches at home. At the same time, their offense has scored just seven in the past eight, including being shut out four times.

Contain Super Mauro: When healthy, there are few players in MLS who can match the skill of Mauro Diaz. But he’s not quite returned to the form he was in before suffering an achilles injury, coincidentally against the Sounders late last season.

Diaz has looked better recently, though, starting the past two games and scoring his first goal in more than a year against the Red Bulls on Sept. 2. If the Sounders let him have space, he’s going to cause serious problems.

Silence Maxi: Sounders fans should be very familiar with Maxi Urruti’s exploits, being as he’s scored in two of his past three appearances against the Sounders (including playoffs). He’s also Dallas’ leading scorer.

The good news is that he’s in a bit of a slump, having scored just one goal in his past nine matches. He may not be known as a physical player, but he’s very effective at pressing high and creating turnovers that lead to quality scoring chances. That’s where having a solid ball-handler like Gustav Svensson on the backline might be a good thing for the Sounders. If Chad Marshall can deny him service and Svensson can keep the backline calm, the Sounders should be in good shape.

Exploit the defense: Dallas’ defense is more or less in shambles right now, having given up 12 goals in their past five matches. The Sounders’ offense hasn’t exactly been hitting on all cylinders, but they are creating chances. This might be the the kind of team in the kind of form they need right now.

Missing Jordan Morris robs them of their best weapon against one of Dallas’ most exploitable weaknesses — throughballs — but the likes of Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez still have plenty of skill to cause problems. A quick goal or two sure would be nice.

Expected Lineups

Dallas: Jesse Gonzalez; Hernan Grana, Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa; Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta; Barrios, Diaz, Lamah; Urruti

Seattle: Stefan Frei; Nouhou, Marshall, Svensson, Kelvin Leerdam; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Rodriguez, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Will Bruin.

How to watch

Date/Time: Saturday, September 16 5:00 PM

Venue: Toyota Stadium; Frisco, TX

Television: JOEtv, Univision-Seattle

Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)

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