The Seattle Sounders' First-Round Best-of-3 MLS Cup Playoff series continues tonight when they face FC Dallas in a decisive Game 3. The Sounders won the first match with a pretty resounding 2-0 victory, having completely controlled every aspect of the match. Unfortunately, Seattle followed up that performance with a less-than-stellar opening half in Dallas. They went on to lose the second leg 3-1 after not being able to claw their way out of the hole they dug for themselves.
Losing is never a positive, but if you're looking for a couple of silver linings heading into tonight's match I have some to offer. The first is that the Sounders lost the only playoff game they could afford to lose. Away from home in the second game of a best-of-three series is acceptable, as long as you can take care of business at home.
The second silver lining is the entirety of the 180 minutes played so far has happened on the Sounders' terms. They were completely dominant in the first match and it was their stupid mistakes and lack of urgency that led to the second match being out of their grasp. The Sounders are simply the better team when they face off against Dallas and they need to play like it.
It sounds overly simple but Seattle needs to control the game tonight. Dallas will certainly come out like a team that has nothing to lose and want to force the Sounders into costly mistakes. Seattle just can't let that happen. Play the way they've played at their best this year, win the game, and move on.
One key stat
10-0-1 – The Sounders' all-time record under Brian Schmetzer in home elimination games during the MLS playoffs. They also have an 18-game home unbeaten streak in the playoffs.
Nothing quite like a do-or-die scenario to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There's no real gray area when it comes to the vibe after this one. Either the Sounders advance or they don't.
How close to full strength is everyone?
- For the first time in awhile the Sounders seemingly have a clean bill of health! Reed Baker-Whiting is listed as questionable but he fully trained on Thursday and is expected to be available.
- FC Dallas is banged up. Depending on how they line up tonight, they could be without up to four starters.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; João Paulo, Atencio; Chu, Rusnák, C. Roldan; Morris
FC Dallas (4-3-3): Paes; Junqua, Tafari, Ibeagha, Twumasi; Illarramendi, Fraser, Pomykal; Arriola, Ferreira, Kamungo
What you need to know
Sounders record (2nd place): 14-9-11, +9 GD
FC Dallas record (7th place): 11-10-13, +4 GD
Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA
Kickoff time: 7 PM Pacific Time
Commentators (AppleTV): Max Bretos and Brian Dunseth