Has Seattle’s Time Finally Arrived?

Osvaldo Alonso scores the equalizer in second half for the Sounders as they draw 1-1 against FC Dallas in the first leg
by Alex Eagleton   |   Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Singing In The Rain – column on Seattle Sounders (SSFC) & the Seattle area soccer scene.

The Seattle Sounders have enjoyed many things since entering MLS play in 2009.

They won the US Open Cup 4 times, including this year. They won their first Supporters' Shield this year and have come close in previous years.

But there is another impressive thing the Sounders have done in their brief MLS history and that’s qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs every year of their existence. Unfortunately, that is where their fortunes have come up short.

They were knocked out in the semi-final round in their first 3 seasons. In their 4th season, they made it past a tough Real Salt Lake club, but they came up short in the Western Conference Finals against the LA Galaxy. As for last year, we don’t really need to relive that debacle. So winning the Supporter’s Shield this year, should bring better fortunes for the Sounders, right?! Not exactly! The Supporter’s Shield winner has only won the MLS Cup 2 times in the previous 10 seasons (Columbus Crew in 2008, LA Galaxy in 2011), have lost in the conference semi-final 6 out of the previous 10 seasons, and made it as far as the conference final the remaining 2 seasons.

Despite the numbers, the Seattle Sounders had a number of advantages heading into Sunday’s contest against FC Dallas. The Sounders are 2-1-0 against FC Dallas during the regular season, which includes a win on the road. In their only defeat on the road, they pretty much controlled various aspects of the match. For instance possession, passing accuracy, and shots on goal, etc.

However, there were some glaring problems in every matchup this season. The Sounders, for whatever reason, weren’t able to score first against FC Dallas in any of the matchups, having to come from behind to win two of those matchups.

They also have given up some pretty forgettable goals, like the opening goal in the first matchup that saw a routine ball to Stefan Frei, bounce awkwardly off the turf with so much spin that it went over his finger tips and David Texeira headed home an easy goal.

The final glaring problem is the two defensive miscues that resulted in 2 penalty kicks for FC Dallas (both converted by Michel). So coming into the 1st leg of the semi-final, the Sounders were focused on cleaning up a lot of those issues.

With the away goal, the Sounders take an important advantage heading into the 2nd leg on November 10th at Century Link Field. If the Sounders happen to play to a scoreless draw in the 2nd leg, then the Sounders will move onto the Western Conference Final based on away goals. MLS recently adopted the away goal rule where if the two leg series ends up in a tie, then the deciding factor is which team scores the most goals on the road.

Looking deeper into the 2nd leg of this showdown, the Sounders will be looking at putting the game away early and staying aggressive for most (if not all) of the match. They gave up a lot of possession to FC Dallas in leg 1 (57% - 43%) and also lost too much of the ball due to inaccurate passes (75% - 62%). So more emphasis on accuracy and possession will be key to getting more quality balls in the attacking third. The Sounders will also be looking at cleaning up the silly mistakes that have been present in all 4 matchups against FC Dallas, such as the 3 penalty kicks given up thus far.

With everything at stake, the Sounders will be looking for a full 90 effort in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

NEXT UP: November 10 — MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington. 7:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN, KIRO Radio, ESPN Deportes.

Alex EAGLETON

Nationality:
USA
College:
South Seattle CC
Club Domestic:
Seattle Sounders
Club Foreign:
Everton
Aspiring midfielder until frothy pints and tasty wines crossed his path. Alex is the newest Sounders FC columnist covering all things Sounders including witty tidbits, the game day experience and much more.
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