The Seattle Sounders entered the Western Conference Championship as the odds-on favorites and they did little to dispel that notion on Tuesday night, defeating the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Gustav Svensson started the scoring early for Seattle, finishing a Nicolas Lodeiro corner kick in the 11th minute. Just 16 minutes later, the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs series changed as Dynamo right back Jalil Anibaba pulled down Joevin Jones in the box without making a play on the ball. That triggered a penalty kick and a red card. Fortunately for the Dynamo, Joe Willis was able to save Lodeiro's penalty, becoming the third goalkeeper in MLS history to save two penalties in the playoffs.
Will Bruin provided cushion for Seattle, scoring against his former team in the 42nd minute. Bruin placed a header past Willis off a Jones cross to score his seventh playoff goal.
The Dynamo showed some life in the second half but were unable to bring the scoreline closer.
- SERIES OVER?: Wilmer Cabrera’s side were put behind the 8-ball early, with Seattle scoring a crucial away goal, and things only got worse. The red card ensured the Dynamo would have few numbers going forward to try and make up a two-goal deficit. Alberth Elis will miss the second leg due to yellow card accumulation, so the two goals they will need will not come from the Honduran international.
- A MEASURE OF REVENGE: Bruin scored 50 goals in six seasons for the Dynamo before being traded to Seattle in the offseason. He had success in 2017, scoring 11 goals in under 2,000 minutes, and built upon that in the first leg. It wasn’t his first goal against his former club this season, he scored against them on June 4, but this one had to have been sweeter for the 28-year-old.
- MILLER STEPS IN: One of the biggest stories pregame was the absence of Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei from the starting XI. The 2016 MLS Cup MVP was left out due to a right hamstring strain, but luckily for Seattle, backup 'keeper Tyler Miller mostly went untested. Jordan Morris and Osvaldo Alonso also missed out on the match, with Morris officially questionable for Leg 2, while Roman Torres will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.
- HOU: Thursday, Nov. 30 at Seattle (10:30 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN; TSN1, TVAS2)
- SEA: Thursday, Nov. 30 vs. Houston (10:30 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN; TSN1, TVAS2)