Yes, there's a new format to the MLS playoffs. Sure, there are plenty of arguments against it.
But that's not going to change the Seattle Sounders’ approach to Leg 1, and probably not Leg 2. They're going to play to win the game.
At Sunday's practice head coach Brian Schmetzer told Sounder at Heart that there's time for full recovery between the matches and the subs are there to ensure victory.
"Every substitution will be just to win the game or closing the game out."
Well, except that fifth sub. That's going to be held just in case penalties seem likely.
Stef Frei and the team have a mark in added time when they know to kick the ball out in order to make those adjustments just in case of penalties. That list of preferred penalty-taking men does shift depending on the match. In match one they may be players who can aid a victory in the waning minutes, whereas if it goes to Match 3 it might be the players who are best at penalties no matter the position.
Schmetzer, and the Sounders, begin the season where they've seen glory. They get up for the playoffs in ways they sometimes don't for the regular season – that's why they've been to more finals, and won more, than any other team from 2016 to the present.
Yes, there's talent. But in the second season, there's Sounders. And Sounders will be heard.
"Just come and support the team as always. The players are ready. The coaching staff is ready. I think it [the two seed] is a just reward – look, I told these guys, 'We've come through some adversity this year. Let's let's be honest, some of it is self inflicted. We didn't play well midseason with the lack of scoring. The defense has been pretty steady all year, but we haven't scored a ton of goals.
"Then there's the adversity that's out of our control type of adversity – Jordan being gone at the Gold Cup. You know, Christians absence, Raul's absence, you know the injuries, some of those things that you know can derail your season.
"We've come through some adversity to come second. So if we can get past Dallas, I'm telling you. If we can get past Dallas, the road looks pretty good for us."
-- Brian Schmetzer, matchday minus one, final statement to the fans.
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Looking back at the week's news
Lower divisions leave just a handful of former Sounders left; Olympique Lyonnais match cancelled
Heading to the conference finals for the USL Championship and the final for USL League One, the list of former Defiance and Sounders players left competing is now a tiny group.
Trey Muse went 90, giving up a single goal, in Charleston Battery's 2-1 win to advance to the USL-C Eastern Conference final. Ray Serrano did not play as Louisville made their inevitable run to the Eastern Conference final in a 4-0 win over Detroit. Carlos Anguiano did not play as Phoenix Rising beat Orange County 2-1. The other Western Conference finalist is Sacramento Republic.
In USL League One, Oalex Anderson (82', no goals) and North Carolina FC beat Northern Colorado 3-1. Their backup keeper is former Sounders Academy player Tor Saunders. Miguel Ibarra played 119 minutes in Charlotte Independence's win in penalties over Union Omaha, who dominated the match in front of 311 lead Nick Hexum.
Olympique Lyonnais men had their match against Marseille cancelled after OM fans threw rocks and bottles at the Lyon team bus. OL coach Fabio Grosso needed medical attention due to the violence. Violence has no place in soccer, ever.
- Danny Leyva and the US Pan Am Games men's squad advanced to the semifinals, to face hosts Chile Wednesday. They are 2-1-0 (WLD) in the tournament. Leyva was the captain in the weekend match. He's also scored a goal.
- Home teams are 5-1-1 with the drawing team advancing from the Wild Card round to get the only road win in the Round of Three. KC crushed St. Louis, the only home loser.
- The USWNT went 1-0-1 in two friendlies against Colombia. The first game and opening half of the second game were fairly bland, scoreless affairs, but the US exploded for three goals in the final frame as the youth movement took over, with San Diego native Mia Fishel and SD Wave player Jaedyn Shaw both scoring their first international goals in front of home fans. No Reign players were injured.
- Former Spanish Football Federation chief and UEFA Executive Committee Vice President Luis Rubiales has been given a three-year ban by FIFA in the aftermath of his non-consensual kiss of Spain player Jenni Hermoso following their World Cup win this summer.
- A new multi-club investment group going by the name Club Underdog is looking to buy distressed assets in the form of teams in the lowest tiers around the world. Their initial portfolio includes Italian Serie D side Campobasso FC and Swiss fifth-division team FC Locarno, along with minority stakes in Serie B club Ascoli FC and USL League One team Brooklyn FC.
Puget Sound Soccer
Sounders v Dallas, 6 pm PT, Apple TV and FS1 at Lumen Field in the crisp air of a perfect late October day. Reign are back this weekend at San Diego on Sunday.