The Seattle Sounders advanced to their fourth Western Conference Finals in the last five years with a hard-fought 1-0 win over a stubborn FC Dallas side. The Hops strategy of packing the middle and frustrating the Sounders attack worked for the first half of the game. Once the Sounders scored the go-ahead goal the visitors changed their strategy and tried to go forward offensively but lacked the firepower to find the equalizer.
DALLAS PACKS THE MIDDLE
FC Dallas’s strategy of putting 11 men behind the ball congested the middle of the field and made it difficult for the Sounders to muster any type of attack. The Sounders tried to counter by being light on their feet and moving around the pitch with and without the ball. The off-ball movements created some space for the sounder players with the ball but. In the end, the Dallas FC defense lulled the Seattle offense.
DETERMINED FROM THE START OF SECOND HALF
It took all of three minutes for the halftime message from head coach Brian Schmetzer to take effect. The Sounders had two corner kicks to open the second half and took advantage of the set-piece opportunities. Sean O’Neill’s header on the second corner kick found its way into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Instead of chasing the second and decisive goal the Sounders took the foot off the pedal and went into a bit of a lull. Passes were slow and players were lethargic in their movement without the ball. The inattentive to detail almost cost the Sounders in the 63rd minute.
FC Dallas forward Michael Barros left-footed shot hit the post and the ball bounced back to Andrés Ricaurte who rifled a right-footed that was cleared off the line by Sounders defender Yeimar Gómez. That is as close as the visitors would get to equalizing as the game turned into a straight-up dog fight. The play became physical and pedestrian in movement. Each side saw a player issued a yellow card and both coaches made multiple substitutions in the last 20 minutes of the game but to no avail for the visitors. The Sounders hung on for the gritty win.
The Sounders will play the winner of the Sporting Kansas City vs Minnesota United Match to be played on Thursday night at Sporting KC.