Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas will lock horns at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday (2:30am kick-off, UK time) for a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference final.
After finishing second in the West during the regular season, the Sounders pulled off an impressive 3-1 win over 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners Los Angeles FC in the first stage, thanks to goals from Nico Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris.
Brian Schmetzer’s men displayed all of the attacking flair which helped them win MLS Cup last year, while also keeping a tight rearguard to fend off the threats of Carlos Vela and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, finished sixth in the West but made it past ‘MLS is Back’ tournament winners and highly-fancied Portland Timbers in the first round thanks to an 8-7 penalty shootout victory after a 1-1 draw during normal time. Ricardo Pepi, 17, equalised in the 93rd minute and after some extra-time sparring, Luchi Gonzalez’s side dispatched all eight of their spot-kicks in a remarkable shootout.
This match-up was one of the highlights of the 2019 Playoffs, with the Sounders advancing thanks to a 4-3 win in an entertaining and utterly breathless game. Will we see a repeat of last year’s antics this time around?
Where to watch Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas on TV:
- UK: Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Football
- US: Fox Sports 1
Where to live stream Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas:
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Seattle Sounders & FC Dallas’ previous line-ups:
- Seattle Sounders (vs LAFC): Frei; A. Roldan, Gomez, O’Neill, Tolo; C. Roldan, Paulo; Jones, Lodeiro, Morris; Ruidiaz.
- FC Dallas (vs Portland Timbers): Maurer; Reynolds, Hedges, Bressan, Nelson; Santos, Ricuarte; Picault, Ferreira, Hollingshead; Jara.
Right-back Kelvin Leerdam is back in training after missing the LAFC match with a hamstring injury, but Xavier Arreaga and Gustav Svensson will both be unavailable.
Paxton Pomykal is the only absentee for Gonzalez due to a long-term hip injury.
Players to watch:
After putting in a Comeback Player of the Year performance during the 2019 season to fire the Sounders to MLS Cup glory, Jordan Morris has returned arguably even stronger in 2020, notching 12 goals and nine assists in 26 games across all competitions to once again prove he is one of the strongest forwards in MLS.
Morris is lightning-fast, direct and extremely skilful, giving Schmetzer the option to hit teams with break-neck counter-attacks, while his ice-cool finishing means you only need to give the 26-year-old one chance to punish you. Reports in September linked Morris with a move to English Championship side, Preston North End, but after another stellar season in MLS, his ceiling appears much higher.
With the likes of Lodeiro, Ruidiaz and Joevin Jones filling their ranks, Seattle are stacked full of attacking menace, but it’s Morris who Dallas are likely to be paying closest attention to.
Seattle are the heavy favourites in this one so Dallas will likely rely upon their defence — which conceded just 24 goals during the regular season, only the Sounders (23) conceded fewer in the West — to soak up pressure before racing forward on the break.
If that’s the case, Gonzalez has the perfect weapon in Colombian forward, Michael Barrios. Sure, the 29-year-old can be best described as inconsistent, indeed, scoring just once during the regular season. However, Barrios did notch five assists and came top of the pile among Dallas players for attempted shots (20) and chances created (25).
Barrios is one of the fastest players in MLS and his direct nature means he will always look to run in behind to get into the opposition penalty box. The more the Sounders press forward, the more exposed they’ll leave the space behind their back four, giving Dallas the chance to get Barrios into the open field.
He may frustrate at times, but the Sounders will not be underestimating Barrios’ abilities heading into this one.
Scoreline prediction: Seattle Sounders 3-1 FC Dallas
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