Today in Sodo the #4 Seattle Sounders face #1 FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
Fitness will be key for the Sounders today. Dallas is young and fast and Seattle is… older and more experienced. Seattle is also playing their 3rd game in 8 days and still carrying injuries on the top-end of the roster. Leo is out for tonight’s match, Ozzie is already all but out, and Pappa and Evans are game-time decisions. The Hoops could be licking their chops.
Dallas dominated the West, with an 18-10-6 record, and just lost the Shield to NYRB on GD. They play a strong midfield, usually a 4-2-3-1, and attack the flanks with speed, speed, speed. Both Diaz and Castillo are incredible dribblers who attack with the ball at their feet. This team is young and hungry. Dallas fell to us in last year’s playoffs on the slimmest of away-goal margins. I am sure they want to score one (or more) tonight and repay the favor.
Luckily the Sounders have depth on defense. Leo’s injury is probably the least impactful. Oniel Fisher should be healthy enough to play leftback, and his pace will be sorely needed. Dylan Remick started at leftback in the Sounders’ last matchup with Dallas and was abused by Castillo all game. If Evans can’t go at CB, Zach Scott is an able starter, and his talents in the air should limit set piece opportunities for a towering Dallas side.
Offensively, Oba and Deuce are right as rain. This is, and always will be, key to Seattle’s fortunes. Plus the Hydra has all its heads. Valdez took a knock, but he seems pretty capable of logging another solid 60 minutes (Hopefully Pappa is fit enough to split a shift with him.). Ivanschitz escaped L.A. healthy and Friberg just scored a helluva golazo. Though fatigue may be setting in, the veteran experienced of the offense should carry the side.
Bold Prediction: Seattle may need a solid showing tonight. Not a draw, not a close win, but a dominant victory. If we hope to advance to the Western Conference Finals, we must capitalize on our home field because away games are Dallas’s kryptonite.
Dallas was 5-8-4 on the road this season versus 13-2-2 at home. That’s a 1.11 PPG against 2.41. The Hoops are a very different team outside the Lone Star State. Additionally, only 4 teams caused Dallas to drop points in Frisco: NYRB, the team that beat them for the Shield, L.A. when they were putting 5 up on everyone, the Rapids (randomly), and… your Seattle Sounders. Seattle is capable of getting results in both legs of this series.
Seattle should be able to score on Dallas tonight. But we need to minimize goals conceded. I’d love a 2-0 Sounders victory… but I don’t see it. If I were greedy, I’d say 3-1 Sounders and hope the young guns on Dallas fold under the pressure and expectations. But I only see a 2-1 Sounders win. I’m hoping that’s enough to send a healthier side to Frisco and hold on.
Lastly, reveal in this taco-worthy golazo on more time!