Stefan Frei, Harry Shipp, Kim Kee-Hee - Seattle Sounders - smiles postgame
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Frei: Sounders must "go for the jugular," limit errors to survive in playoffs

SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders know they can’t keep living like they did in their first-round matchup with FC Dallas in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

The Sounders came out on top in one of the wilder playoff matches in MLS history, fueled by a Jordan Morris hat trick that was capped off by a dramatic game-winning header in extra time to seal a 4-3 victory.

But as Seattle look ahead to their Western Conference Semifinal matchup with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday (10 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN1/4, TVAS in Canada), goalkeeper Stefan Frei said the jubilation over the victory should also come with the knowledge that his team didn’t put Dallas away when they could have – and that won’t be a formula for success as the playoffs progress.

The Sounders went up 2-0 in the first 22 minutes of Saturday’s match, only to relinquish the lead thanks to goals from Reggie Cannon and Matt Hedges, and again yielded an equalizer after a goal from Morris had them up 3-2.

“We’re at home again, so we want to be on the front foot,” Frei said. “I think that’s what we did [against FCD] that was fantastic. Seeing an opponent be down 2-0 and call a meeting on the field, that’s what you want. But then you’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to really go for the jugular. When you see a team bleeding, you’ve got to go and kill them.

“We took our foot off the pedal a tiny bit, but that’s okay. We’ll take a look at it and we’ll improve.”

Added Morris: “We’ve done that a couple times this year, where we get out to a lead like that, we have a bunch of chances where we could’ve gone up 3-0 and we let teams back in the game.

“In the end, all that matters is that we won, but we’ve got to come out and do better.”

It may have been more dramatic than they would have liked. But looking ahead, Frei said that the team should also take encouragement from the performance of the attack, which managed four goals and, as Morris noted, generated plenty of chances to add more to that total.

Still, shoring up the defensive lapses that led to Saturday’s blown leads will be a point of emphasis as the Sounders get back to the training ground. RSL boast a group of talented attackers in their own right, and are plenty capable of punishing those miscues.

“We scored a bunch of goals,” Frei said. “It’s always good when you can find the back of the net. We want to see our offensive-minded players feel confidence in the playoffs, we don’t want them to be in a drought. We have to shore up a couple things defensively, as a team.

“I’m not putting it on the back four or anything, I think it was evident today also on set pieces. So, that’s a full team effort on defense. But offensively, for us to score that amount of goals, and some really nice goals, very happy. Hopefully they utilize that confidence and keep firing on all cylinders.”