SEATTLE — In a season full of absolutely bizarre matches, it somehow made perfect sense that the Seattle Sounders would beat FC Dallas 4-3 in one of the strangest playoff games in MLS history. The match featured a Jordan Morris hat trick, Raúl Ruidíaz’s first goal in six games, a blown 2-0 Sounders lead, another blow 3-2 lead and finally an extra-time game-winner that was about as fluky as they come.
That’s surely not how the Sounders would have preferred to go through, but they’ll happily refocus their attention on Wednesday’s Western Conference semifinal against the winner of Real Salt Lake-Portland Timbers.
- The match got off to a physical start with FC Dallas registering three fouls in the first four minutes. But once it settled down, the Sounders started to exert control with a clear willingness to test Jesse Gonzalez from distance.
- The work paid off in the 18th minute when Cristian Roldan found Ruidíaz in space. Ruidíaz took a touch to settle himself before letting it rip from about 25 yards out. The dipping, knuckling shot beat Gonzalez to the near post for a 1-0 lead. The goal ended a five-match scoring drought for Ruidíaz and was his fourth goal in just three playoff games.
- It only took four minutes for the Sounders to expand their lead. Kim Kee-hee sent in a relatively simple ball that Ruidíaz won near midfield. His header fell perfect for Jones, who found himself 1v1 with a Matt Hedges. Rather than attempt to beat Hedges, Jones drew in the defender. That left Morris all alone on the wing where Jones fed him a well-weighted pass. Morris beat Gonzalez five-hole for the 2-0 lead.
- The Sounders only picked up momentum from there and had three good looks at extending their lead between the 34th and 37th minutes. The best of which was Lodeiro finding Ruidiaz all alone inside the penalty, only for the shot to go high of the goal.
- As if buoyed by those missed chances, FC Dallas finally got a decent look at goal in the 39th minute. Michael Barrios put in a cross that Kim failed to clear. It bounced to Reggie Cannon, who was able to touch it around Román Torres and beat Stefan Frei easily to cut the deficit to 2-1. It briefly looked like Cannon may have handled the ball, but replays showed it to be a clean touch.
- Dallas came out absolutely blazing in the second half, dominating the first 20 minutes both through possession and pressing. Although Dallas was only able to turn that into three shots, the last of them found the back of the net when Matt Hedges beat Gustav Svensson to a corner and hit it well enough that Cristian Roldan’s goal-line deflection couldn’t keep it out.
- To their credit, the Sounders were able to pull themselves together after that and were able to pull back ahead in the 74th minute. Gustav Svensson headed Nicolas Lodeiro’s corner toward goal and Morris was able to deflect it past Gonzalez.
- The Sounders had a wonderful chance to extend their lead to 4-2 in the 78th. Victor Rodriguez got a wide open look from the right side of the box that was saved only to rebound out to Ruidíaz who beat Gonzalez to the loose ball, but Ryan Hollingshead made a spectacular goal-line clearance to keep it out.
- That came back to haunt the Sounders when Bryan Acosta was somehow left unmarked at the back post on a corner kick after Kim Kee-hee inexplicably abandoned his mark. That made it 3-3 in the 84th minute.
- The Sounders had golden opportunity to end it in regular time when Kelvin Leerdam found himself open inside the penalty area but his low shot was saved by Gonzalez.
- Dallas had a good chance at winning it as well when they broke out following a 90+4th minute Sounders corner kick only for Acosta to shoot high despite having a runner at the far post.
- That set the stage for a wild overtime. Morris finished up his hat trick in the 113th minute, finishing off a scramble in front of goal with a header. The chance started with a ball pinging around the box, eventually falling to Ruidiaz. His shot looked destined for the back of the net, but Reto Ziegler blocked it. The ball then ricochetted up and off Ruidiaz before falling to Morris at the back post.
How about our guy Jordan Morris?!?: In his first post-season start since 2016, Morris picked up basically where he left off after scoring twice during that campaign. His first goal was pretty normal, beating Gonzalez on the break. But his next two were far more opportunistic, the types of goals we aren’t necessarily used to seeing him score. Morris had to fight off a defender to get to Svensson’s header and positioned himself perfectly on the third. Morris also started the winning sequence, dribbling through several players in the midfield. He did all this just a few days after playing 135 minutes over two matches for the USMNT, flying from Toronto and getting just one full training session for the Sounders. He now has five playoff goals — tied for the second most in team history — in just 648 post-season minutes. Clint Dempsey needed more than 1,200 playoff minutes to get his record six Sounders playoff goals.
The most dangerous lead: The Sounders are really doing their darndest to justify the most ridiculous soccer cliché “2-0 is the most dangerous lead.” The Sounders have now blown 2-0 leads three times last seven games, all of them at home. In two of those games, they followed up by blowing a 3-2 lead. It’s obviously encouraging that they’ve managed to win all three of those games, but it’s like they can’t help but make life difficult on themselves. This had all the makings of a relatively easy match after Morris put them up 2-0 and they had at least three very good looks at going up 3-0. But they came out completely flat in the second half. They’ve got to figure out a way to be better.
What happened to the set-piece defending: The Sounders came into this game as one of the better teams at defending corner kicks, allowing just three goals all season. You’d never know it from how they looked against FC Dallas. Virtually every time Dallas lined up for a set piece, they got some sort of dangerous look, including their last two goals. On the first, Svensson was simply beat by a very good attacking centerback in Matt Hedges. But on the third, Kim appeared to completely misread the flight of the ball and then left his man to mark a player who Jordan Morris appeared to have covered. This was hopefully an isolated incident, but figuring out how to better defend set pieces has to be the priority in training this week.
Did you see that?!?
If there’s one play to describe the wackiness of this game, the
One stat that tells the tale:
According to the MLS record book, it is indeed a record. Previous record was 45 combined shots in a Colorado-Dallas game back in 2005. The 18 shots on goal are tied for sixth all-time.— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) October 19, 2019
He said what?!?!
Stefan Frei: “When you see a team bleeding, you’ve got to go and kill them.”
Man of the match
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