The Seattle Sounders head into the second game of their best-of-3 first-round matchup with FC Dallas riding an impressive 10-game unbeaten run and immediately on the back of two of the best games they’ve played all season. The 2-0 win in Game 1 against Dallas was particularly impressive, as the Sounders looked every bit the team that was steamrolling people to start the season from whistle to whistle.
Going into that first game, Seattle and Dallas looked pretty evenly matched when taken at a glance: they’d scored an identical 41 goals in the regular season, and Dallas’ defense was only marginally less impressive allowing 37 goals to the Sounders’ 32. Both teams even entered that game on nine-game unbeaten runs, and both regular season encounters between the two finished 1-1.
Dallas were carrying injuries, though, missing a couple of key players in midfield and only able to bring Bernard Kamungo – a dynamic breakout player who had scored the lone Dallas goal when they came to Seattle, and was coming off of an impressive performance with the US u23 team – off of the bench late on. Their injury situation got much worse when Alan Velasco exited the game with what proved to be an ACL tear in the 18th minute.
Playing at home with their playoff lives on the line and missing their star player, I’d expect FC Dallas to try to bridge the apparent talent gap with what we’ll call “enthusiasm.” They’ll need Jesus Ferreira to be closer to his best than he has been for much of this season, and guys like Kamungo, Jader Obrian, and Paul Arriola will probably need to step up to give their side a chance to force a Game 3. On the Rave Green side of things, if the defense stays at the level it's been at over the last 10 games – and when I say “defense” here I’m less referring to the five or six players closest to Stefan Frei’s goal and more so the whole team defense that’s so effectively limited quality chances for opponents – the Sounders will find their chances and it’s a lot easier to get a win when you keep a shutout at the back.
This will be a hard game, almost certainly, but good teams win hard games. Great teams can make hard games look easy, and this is a group that’s absolutely capable of that.
One key stat
+1 - The Sounders had a +1 goal differential when playing on the road in MLS this season, outscoring opponents 22-21 away from Lumen Field.
The Sounders aren’t playing with house money, and the pressure certainly isn’t off, but the vibe is definitely good. Somewhere at a hotel in the greater Frisco area Raúl Ruidíaz is almost certainly playing “Pepas” by Faruko on a bluetooth speaker and getting the boys’ minds right. FC Dallas are going to bring a lot of energy and tenacity, but Seattle can handle that and it should open the game up in a way that particularly suits the attacking talents at Brian Schmetzer’s disposal. It’ll be a hard-fought game, but the Sounders should feel good about their ability to finish this series off in two games.
How healthy is everyone?
- Reed Baker-Whiting’s still out for this one, but beyond the young fullback the Sounders should be as healthy as they have been all season. There’s no better time to be at your best.
- It’s now been confirmed that the injury Alan Velasco suffered in a collision when sliding for a ball in the first game of the series was an ACL tear that will require a 9-10 month recovery. Without their most impactful player, FC Dallas will need Bernard Kamungo to play a bigger role as he continues his return from injury if they’re going to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Joao Paulo, Atencio; Chu, Rusnak, C. Roldan; Morris
FC Dallas (4-3-3): Paes; Farfan, Tafari, Ibeagha, Twumasi; Fraser, Illarramendi, Pomykal; Arriola, Ferreira, Kamungo
What you need to know
Sounders record (2nd in the West): 14-9-11, +9 GD
FC Dallas record (7th in the West): 11-10-13, +4 GD
Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Kickoff time: 6:09pm Pacific Time
Commentators (AppleTV): Max Bretos and Briand Dunseth