Ryan Hollingshead - FC Dallas - October 31, 2020

The Seattle Sounders' trio of Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz has shown to be one of the league's toughest attacking units to stop, especially come playoff time.


You don't need to tell FC Dallas that ahead of the Western Conference Semifinals matchup in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs between the sides at Lumen Field on Tuesday, in a game that will pit a visiting Dallas side against the same team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season. 


For Dallas, it's all about the time-honored adage of approaching the matchup with respect, but not fear. Speaking with reporters on a Saturday video call, defender Ryan Hollingshead said his team is plenty aware of the problems Seattle's stars present, but added that he believes it sets up a strength-on-strength matchup with a Dallas defense that is among the league's stingiest.


"All those guys are dynamic. They've got [Cristian] Roldan in there too. Their front four are all kind of game-changers. Any one of them can step into a game and really take over," Hollingshead said. "We really pride ourselves in our defense. If you look at our goals against average this year, one of the best in the West, that's coming off of a crazy schedule and honestly a pretty consistent defense we've had over the last multiple years, with some of the best defenders and letting in the last amount of goals in the Western Conference, so we pride ourselves in that.


"So it'll be a clash of those two things. But we've got a good game plan and we've got ideas of how to shut those guys down. And I think we're going to be able to do it. You've got to make sure you're prepared but ultimately it comes down to who wants it more."


The Lodeiro-Morris-Ruidiaz trio certainly looks to be in top form, showcasing some dynamic combination play on their way to a dominant showing in Seattle's 3-1 Round One win over LAFC.

If there's anybody who might have a reason to believe in their ability to temper those fireworks, though, it might be Dallas. In their Round One penalty-kick triumph over the Portland Timbers, Dallas did well to frustrate a talented Timbers attack on their home turf and claw their way to the victorious shootout.


It's easier said than done, but Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez also said on Saturday that his team believes they have what it takes collectively to pull off another Cascadia upset.


"You could see it in their last game against LAFC," Gonzalez said. "Those three players stepped it up for them, and have stepped it up for them consistently. And when one is missing or one is off or two or off, the other seems to fill the void. So that's important for us to recognize. I have all the respect for them and those individuals and the way they're set up tactically and protected. That's a great challenge for us, it's not going to be easy. It's going to be the hardest challenge of the season so far. But we're certainly excited to try our best and control what we can control.


"Those are hard players to control but we believe we've also got the unit to step it up and not depend on any one individual but have the unit do the job the way we know we can."


Tuesday will mark the first time the sides of faced off in 2020, but Hollingshead noted that the sides have a long history in postseason play, dating back before last season's 4-3 thriller in Seattle. This season, Hollingshead said, a victorious result would arguably mean FC Dallas getting past their toughest opposition in the West


"We've had our rivalry with Seattle in the playoffs for the last seven years, seeing them often. It's been often that we've lost to them and they've gone on and won the entire thing," he said. "So we see this really as the hardest matchup we have for the rest of the playoffs. It we can get through Seattle we think that's our hardest game and getting to the Cup would be a lot easier. So we see Seattle as a really difficult opponent, they've proven it, beating some of the top teams. It's weird not seeing them at all this year, we'll [watch the] video, we'll know what we have to do to win, and we'll be ready for it."