Seattle Sounders FC loses 2-1 to FC Dallas but advance to Western Conference Finals on ( 4-2) aggregate goal differential.
FC Dallas beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 but it will be the visiting Sounders who will advance to the Western Conference Finals to face the Colorado Rapids who dispatched of the LA Galaxy in their Semifinal series.
Seattle entered the match with a 3 goal advantage and the strategy for the visitors was plain and simple. Absorb the Dallas pressure then counter attack with quick passes aimed at exploiting the open spaces left by the Dallas players who were pushing upfield on the attack. For Dallas, the strategy was to bring energy and push everyone upfield and flood the Seattle goal area with players .
Seattle had the game’s first clear-cut chance in the 16th minute when Dallas defender Matt Hedges slide tackle deflected a Nelson Valdez pass intended for a wide-open Jordan Morris. Dallas defender Atiba Harris had a golden opportunity in the 20th minute when a deflected ball landed on his feet but he was unable to beat Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei who made a left-footed kick save to keep the score at 0-0.
FC Dallas persistence paid off in the 25th minute when Tesho Akindele redirected a pass from Harris and headed the ball into the back of the Seattle goal to narrow the aggregate to 3-1. FC Dallas Chris Seitz made a world class save on Nicolas Lodeiro’s curling free kick shot in the 37th minute to keep the visitors of the score sheet for the remainder of the first half.
The Sounders made a second half tactical shift that pressured the FC Dallas players every time they had the ball and the strategy paid off in the 54 minute when Tyrone Mears stole the ball from Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman and hit a streaking Lodeiro who slotted the ball into the back of the FC Dallas to tie the game at 1-1 and increase the Seattle aggregate advantage to 4-2. Maxi Urriti headed home a Mauro Rosales pass to give FC Dallas a 2-1 lead in the game and shrink Seattle’s aggregate lead to 4-2.
While the game might not have been his team’s best performance of the season, Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer was pleased with his team’s determination to win the game and move on to the next round.
“There wasn’t much ebb and flow. It was kind of one-way traffic there. We were under the gun. Give credit to Oscar for his game plan. He got burned by Jordie (Morris) up in Seattle, and he used the space Jordie was vacating and pumping balls into Atiba Harris, so credit to his for his game plan. I think we were able to withstand most of that.
“As I look at the stat sheet, obviously they had 22 shots to our 8, but the thing that stands out was the duels won. We won 60% of the duels. Although Dallas came strong, we were able to win the majority of the duels so I think that is what helped us persevere against a team that was really going all out and trying to press and get back in the series.”
The question now is how costly was the win for the Sounders as several players suffered injuries during the game. Jordan Morris left the game at halftime with a strained hamstring, Nelson Valdez suffered a calf injury and left the game in the 58th minute and Erik Friberg had a knock in his leg and left the game in the 77th minute. The Sounders will host Colorado on November 22nd so the teams training staff will be putting in extra time to get the players ready for the Western Conference Finals.