Despite missing key plays, Seattle Sounders recorded an impressive 2-1 victory over FC Dallas to leave themselves 90 minutes away from a Western Conference Final.
Clint Dempsey scored a near perfect free-kick as the Sounders took the lead at CenturyLink Field in the 86th minute. There are now three ways in which the Sounders can book their place in the final – all are distinctly possible.
Win In Dallas
The most obvious route is by winning the game on Sunday. Any win for the Sounders will guarantee their place in the Conference Final, obviously.
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Should FC Dallas push forward, the Sounders will look to beat them at their own game, counter-attacking at pace.
If the Sounders do look to absorb pressure, they will ideally need Brad Evans to return to fitness. Zach Scott is normally a willing and able deputy, but his lack of pace is a concern against Dallas. Although dropping deep to absorb attacks will limit the space behind in which Scott can be exposed, it’s still not ideal.
Draw In Dallas
Thanks to Clint Dempsey’s fine strike late on, any draw would also be enough to safely see the Sounders through to the Conference Final. However, it could potentially be the most dangerous.
The Sounders lead is very slim and so a goalless draw would mean they could be eliminated on the away goals rule at any second. Playing for a draw is always dangerous.
Thankfully, any draw is enough and the draw is actually safer provided it isn’t 0-0. A 1-1 draw means that the Sounders would still have the insurance of extra time should they concede. 2-2 and above would mean that they have the insurance of still going through if they conceded a goal.
Lose In Dallas
Due to the away goals rule, the Sounders could actually still progress to the Conference Final if they lose – so long as they score 2 or more goals.
FC Dallas managed just one away goal, so if the Sounders score 2 it leaves the Texan side needing to outscore the Sounders by 2 or more goals.
The key for the Sounders appears to be away goals. The chances are that they will require at least one goal to progress to the final. Playing out a 0-0 is just too risky and in truth negative tactics like this are often punished, particularly in such an open MLS.