MLS Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg – Lamar Hunt Way, Frisco, TX FC DALLAS v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Seattle travel to Lamar Hunt Way to face FC Dallas in the MLS Cup Quarter-Final second leg. We have a 3:0 lead on aggregate going into this, the most important match of the season for our Sounders. I wrote everything that I couldn’t think to cover from last week. This pre-match is the best analysis I can muster based on interpreting the events of last Sunday’s triumphant victory in Seattle. Do I have to say “support is vital”? No. You know and I know what’s at stake here, and what we as the clubs fervent supporters must do to help our boys in Green the only way we know. Cheering, chanting, standing, singing. Hearts full, eyes forward. As we support our side with all our collective might, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Going into the second leg with a 3:0 lead sees the Sounders firmly in charge as they roll into Dallas having won their last two matches. Barring a complete defensive collapse you could make a compelling argument that the Sounders are the favourites to advance to the MLS Cup Semi-Finals. Bottom line, Dallas have to score three goals to force extra time and possibly a penalty shootout. Dallas need to score four goals conceding none in order to win the tie outright. Should the Sounders score an away goal, Dallas would have to score five goals to win the cup tie outright as drawing level on aggregate would still see the Sounders through on away goals. The Cup sees Frei, Marshall, Torres, Joevin Jones, Lodeiro, and Alonso all in top form for tonight’s match in Frisco. Morris is providing excellent support play in flashes and is always a threat to score. Remick may be available for selection, provided he’s made a full recovery from his concussion. Additionally, Anderson may be available as cover at forward, provided his hamstring has returned to full fitness.

The Bad News
Statistically, Lamar Hunt Way is where dreams go to die for the Sounders. We’ve only won twice there in the league. In addition to the sharply felt absence of Dempsey, Ivanschitz and Fernández were left behind in Seattle, due to injuries. The Dallas have won the League and US Open Cup double this year. They are unbeaten in CONCACAF Champions League group play and will face CD Árabe Unido of Panama in the tournament’s Quarter-Finals during February and March of the coming year. By all apparent indicators and metrics, last week’s shock victory shouldn’t have been possible. So these questions have to be asked “Are the Sounders peaking to the height of their potential quality? Or have the Dallas failed to play up to the expectations of their trophy-filled season?” Regardless of our record at Dallas in MLS Cup, these are the relevant questions, and my heart says the Sounders are up for it. Numbers and probability say that anomalous results (if indeed last week’s triumph was, in fact, an anomaly, which is a completely different argument) generally return to the centre of the distribution. I can only imagine that we have stung the pride of a team that has won two of three domestic cups, and is pursuing the first CONCACAF title for an American club side since the LA Galaxy won in 2000, back when the competition was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The question is, with Dallas’ back to the wall, and the Sounders in top form…who wins that? What was originally billed as a David vs. Goliath matchup, has turned into a clash of the titans. Stay tuned.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Seitz is able and has won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake. Seitz’s only fault might be seen in the fact that he hasn’t yet played 100 pro matches (currently at 77 appearances as of May 2016). Seitz’s understudies, Gonzalez and Herman have 17 appearances between the two of them.

Defence – Harris, though able (28 goals) and experienced (226 matches played), is getting long in the tooth at 31 years-old. Hedges is able if unspectacular, and in the peak of his career. Zimmerman, at the tender age of 23, has played several times at various youth levels for the United States, but his pro experience is limited at less than 100 matches. Figeroa a mainstay for Honduras, has many tools at his disposal to deter would-be goal scorers. The Argentinian, Paparatto, can provide cover if needed as he is an experienced hand, once winning the MLS Cup with the Treecutters.

Midfield – Acosta is quickly becoming a fixture in the American national team. Although his professional experience is limited at under 100 matches, it’s clear Jurgen Klinsmann sees enough in him to award him four United States caps. Hollingshead is a domestic product with less than 50 pro appearances (as of 3 June of this year). Despite this, he started last week in Seattle. Gruezo has a lot of experience for a 21 year-old along with 10 caps for Ecuador, and won a club championship with Barcelona SC (Ecuador). Barrios scored against the Sounders in our May matchup in the league. He is still relatively young at 25, is a dangerous threat in front of goal, and played a great deal of top division football in Colombia.

Forward – Urruti started for Dallas in the win against LA. He is reasonably experienced for his age (25), scores a fair amount (nearly a goal every two matches), played nearly 60 times for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, and won an MLS Cup with the Treecutters in cursed 2015. Akindele, though listed as a midfield player in last weeks lineup, is listed as a forward on the Dallas team roster. His experience as a pro is limited although this is mitigated by his goalscoring ability his 10 caps for Canada, and his MLS 2014 Rookie of the Year award. And lurking on the Dallas bench is Carlos “Pescado” Ruiz whose exploits as a generational talent for Guatamela are legendary.

Familiar Faces
Urruti and Paparatto were part of the Treecutters MLS Cup winning side in 2015. Mauro Rosales played nearly 90 times for the Sounders from 2011-2013.

Selections for Last Match
FC Dallas: Seitz, Harris, Zimmerman, Hedges, Figueroa, Hollingshead, Acosta, Ulloa, Gruezo, Urruti, Barrios.

Bench: Gonzalez (gk), Rosales, Paparatto, David, Ortiz, Akindele, Ruiz.

Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Friberg, Morris, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Fisher, Alfaro, Evans, Farfan, Kovar, Gómez.

Injury List
FC Dallas –
OUT: Lloyd (concussion), Diaz (Achilles tendon).

Sounders FC –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Fernandez (hamstring), Ivanschitz (knee).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Remick (concussion), Anderson (hamstring).

No suspensions. Alonso from the Sounders and Figueroa both carry a booking into this match. Both were punished for unsporting play. Alonso against Kansas City in the First Round, and Figueroa in the first leg last Sunday in Seattle.

Fun Fact
According to a FIFA article called “The Clubs, the facts and the origin of their names”  Dallas was originally named the Burn because: “The fire-breathing mustang shows raw horsepower and speed in the high-combustion Texan oilfield; “Burn” is a reference not only to Texas’s most famous export but also to the effects of the summer sun.” Oh where to start?