Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo | 2017 Conference Championship Preview

Playoffs - 2017 - Western Conference Championship Leg 2

Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo
Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs 
– Western Conference Championship
CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Wash.
10:30 pm ET – Nov. 30, 2017

The Houston Dynamo entered the first leg of their Western Conference final perhaps sensing they had nothing to lose. They could hardly be blamed for approaching the second wondering what may already be lost.

After going down a goal and a man early and eventually succumbing to a 2-0 home defeat against the Seattle Sounders last Tuesday, only the Dynamo's best away performance of 2017 would be enough from keeping holders Seattle from returning to MLS Cup.

It could've been even worse if not for Joe Willis' save of a penalty conceded by Jalil Anibaba. With Anibaba dismissed for his foul and Houston playing a man down, Will Bruin's goal later in the first half to add to Gustav Svensson's opener ensured that Seattle left BBVA Compass Stadium with a two-goal advantage and the Dynamo with a steep hill to climb.

Anibaba and striker Alberth Elis (yellow card accumulation) will also be suspended for the return leg. The latter's absence means coach Wilmer Cabrera will almost certainly need offensive contributions from forwards Mauro Manotas or Erick Torres.

Seattle centerback Roman Torres must also sit after receiving his second yellow card of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, which will disrupt his effective partnership with Chad Marshall. And it's unclear if No. 1 goalkeeper Stefan Frei's hamstring will have healed enough for the second leg after he missed the first.

But the Sounders have suffered only one home defeat this season, a 1-0 loss to Toronto on May 6. Including the playoffs, they've won last four at CenturyLink Field (including the playoffs) by a combined 12-0 margin.

Still, the residue of Houston's stunning 2-1 win at Portland in the second leg of the conference semifinals shows there's always a chance. How much of one? We'll find out on Thursday.

Seattle Sounders

  • Suspended: D Roman Torres (yellow-card accumulation
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D Brad Evans (back); QUESTIONABLE: M Osvaldo Alonso (quad strain), GK Stefan Frei (hamstring), F Jordan Morris (hamstring)

Projected Starting Lineup
(4-2-3-1, left to right)
GK: Stefan Frei – Nouhou Tolo, Chad Marshall, Tony Alfaro, Kelvin Leerdam – Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan – Joevin Jones, Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro  – Will Bruin

Notes: Seattle has never lost to Houston in nine MLS home games (6W-3D) and has only conceded two goals across those nine games, the last of which came on March 26, 2011...Seattle hasn’t lost in 14 MLS home games (11W-3D) and has gone four straight games without conceding a goal at home (12-0 aggregate score over those four games)...Nicolas Lodeiro is averaging 3.7 chances created per game in the playoffs. Only one other player is averaging more than 2.5 per game in the postseason (min. two appearances).

Houston Dynamo

  • Suspended: GK Tyler Deric (Off-field conduct), D Jalil Anibaba (red card), F Alberth Elis (yellow-card accumulation)
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D AJ DeLaGarza (torn ACL)

Projected Starting Lineup
(4-2-3-1, left to right)
GK: Joe Willis – Dylan Remick, Phillippe Senderos, Leonardo, Adolfo Machado – Juan David Cabezas, Eric Alexander – Alex, Tomas Martinez, Mauro Manotas – Erick Torres

NotesHouston has scored two or more goals in an MLS away game just 12 times since the start of the 2015 season (inc. playoffs). Only two of the scorelines in those games would see the Dynamo extend the game into extra time or advance in 90 minutes...Juan Cabezas had six tackles in the first leg of the series and now leads the MLS playoffs with 16 tackles.

All-Time Series

The teams have met in one previous series in the MLS Cup Playoffs, in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. The first leg of the series ended 0-0 in Seattle, while the second was a 1-0 Dynamo win in Houston, as Brian Ching scored in the 30-minute extra time period to break the deadlock and send the Dynamo on in the playoffs that year.

  • Overall (regular season): Seattle 6 wins (19 goals) ... Houston 4 wins (16 goals) … Ties 6
  • At SEA (regular season): Seattle 6 wins (11 goals) … Houston 0 wins (2 goals) … Ties 4


 Hilario Grajeda

Assistant Referees:
 Peter Balciunas, Corey Parker

4th Official:
 Alan Kelly

Video Assistant Referee (VAR):
 Edvin Jurisevic