The Seattle Sounders
erupted for three goals in the second half to grab a convincing 3-0 victory over FC Dallas
in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. Nelson Valdez
scored for the second consecutive match and Nicolás Lodeiro
netted two to give the Sounders the win.
Seattle advanced to the Western Conference Semi-finals
after beating Sporting Kansas City 1-0
on Thursday evening in a controversial contest in Seattle. Dallas entered the match after a full week of rest following last Sunday’s regular season finale against LA, a scoreless draw
that secured the Supporters’ Shield
Seattle Runs Rampant in Second Half
Both teams made several changes to their previous lineup. Sounders starting center back Roman Torres and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez both missed the game with hamstring problems. Zach Scott replaced Torres. Jordan Morris moved in midfield to fill-in for Fernandez and Paraguayan Nelson Valdez started as Seattle’s lead forward.
Dallas team was playing, of course, without team captain Mauro Díaz,
who suffered a season ending achilles injury
two weeks ago. Pareja continued to experiment with his lineup following Díaz’s injury. Dallas played a defensive 3-5-2 which shifted regularly into a 5-3-2 when Seattle had the ball. Defensive midfielder Victor Ulloa
was also introduced to protect the back line. Tesho Akindele
was dropped from the starting eleven and Michael Barrios
and Maxi Urruti
played as the two front men.
Although FC Dallas took a defensive posture, they pressed Seattle and controlled the ball in the early stages of the game. Despite Dallas’ good start, the Sounders created the best chances of the first half. Nelson Valdez had an promising early chance scrambled off the line by FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz in the 4th minute. In the 27th minute, Seattle almost scored again when the ball fell to Eric Friberg after a corner kick. He released a low shot that beat Seitz, but Dallas center back Matt Hedges cleared it off the line. Jordan Morris was active in his left wing position and was involved in most of Seattle’s threatening play. Just like the three playoff matches played earlier on Sunday, the first half ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Nelson Valdez opened the scoring five minutes into the second half when Joevin Jones delivered a ball into the box from Seattle’s left. Seitz came off his line for a ball that was clearly over his head, and Valdez beat his marker to head it into an empty goal. Seattle doubled their lead just four minutes later with another break down their left side. This time it was Jordan Morris eluding his marker and running free into the box. Morris beat Hedges to the byline and crossed for Lodeiro who slid the ball home easily. The floodgates were open and Seattle added another for good measure. Lodeiro broke through for a one-on-one with Seitz just eight minutes after the first goal was scored. He slid it under the keeper to make it three and the rout was complete. Dallas introduced Tesho Akindele, Mauro Rosales and Carlos Ruíz in the second half. They pushed bodies forward intent on getting at least one goal back. Their efforts were futile though and the match ended in a lopsided victory for the home team.
2016 has already been the most successful season in FC Dallas’ 21 year history, but eight devastating minutes in Seattle might have eclipsed their chances of winning a historic third trophy. Seattle are in the driver’s seat as the series heads to Frisco for the second leg on Sunday, November 6th. Three goals should be enough for Seattle to knock out the West’s number one seed, but Óscar Pareja’s side will surely leave everything on the field in an attempt to get back in the contest.
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