SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders may have a 3-0 aggregate lead in their Western Conference semifinal matchup against FC Dallas in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs following a second-half explosion in their first leg fixture at CenturyLink Field that saw them score all three goals in eight minutes.
But ahead of the second leg of the series at Toyota Stadium on Sunday (9 p.m. ET, FS1 in the U.S., TSN2 in Canada), the Sounders still have plenty of business left to tend to.
The Sounders know their lead – however commanding – is by no means insurmountable, given their opposition. Seattle is, after all, playing against this season’s US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions, something that interim head coach Brian Schmetzer says isn’t lost on his club.
“The fact of the matter is, the talk after the game was that we’re not done,” Schmetzer said. “We’re not finished. That message will be repeated throughout the week. Dallas is a very dangerous team. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re going to make sure we work smart, work hard when we need to this week to make sure we prepare.
“We understand what’s going to happen. Oscar [Pareja] is a very good coach. Dallas is a very good team. ...If we go down there thinking we’ve already won, that would be a big mistake. We won’t allow that to happen.”
The attacking heroics of Nelson Valdez and Nicolas Lodeiro dominated most of the postgame discussion surrounding the Sounders, but the effort from goalkeeper Stefan Frei and Seattle’s back line to maintain the clean sheet could prove equally consequential ahead of the second leg.
The shutout means that FCD would have to romp Seattle 3-0 just to force extra time. If the Sounders can manage even one road goal, Dallas would then need five of its own, due to the away-goal tiebreaker that takes hold during the playoffs.
“[Shutting them out] was the most important thing at that point,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “I think the goal was to keep that clean sheet. It makes it a two-goal game for them at home. Now it’s a little more difficult for them now that they didn’t score one away. Hopefully, we can sneak one in.”
The three-goal advantage, combined with the successfully completed objective of holding FCD without a road goal, certainly gives the Sounders the upper hand as they look to advance and end Dallas’ aspirations of becoming the first MLS franchise to bag a historic treble.
Now, it’s just a matter of finishing what they started.
“I think we won the lottery by having a clean sheet in this game and then having the advantage of three goals but still we have not accomplished anything yet,” Valdez said. “We still need to be mentally prepared for the game going back into Dallas. There is a reason why they finished the league in first place. “They are a good team and we can’t take anything for granted. We have to be prepared.”