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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting the Seattle Sounders

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Seattle enters the semifinals after knocking out Sporting KC on Thursday.

MLS: Sporting KC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

It is playoff time, and after a wrongly allowed offside goal, Seattle will be Dallas playoff opponent for the third straight season.

Settling In

Seattle had been on a stellar run in the last half of the season, a run that was ended by the magic man Mauro Diaz, just before he tore his Achilles tendon. Now Seattle look a bit shakier, after their defeat to Dallas and their back and forth play in game against Kansas City. Personally, Seattle is similar to Dallas in a few ways that will make this an interesting home and away series.

Potential Lineup

Seattle is missing Andreas Ivanschitz, Clint Dempsey, and Dylan Remick, with Brad Evans, Oalex Anderson, Nelson Valdez, and Chad Marshall all listed as questionable, though most of them will likely play.

GK: Stefan Frei; LB: Joevin Jones; CB: Chad Marshall, Roman Torres; RB: Tyrone Mears; CM: Nicolas Lodeiro, Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso; RW: Christian Roldan; LW: Alvaro Fernandez; FW: Jordan Morris.

Key Matchup

Kellyn Acosta vs. Erik Friberg. Without Diaz, Dallas will struggle to keep possession, but Acosta’s performance last week breeds hope that he can move the ball forward and make a few splitting passes to open up Seattle. He was no replacement for Mauro, but his passing game was important in L.A. Friberg and Acosta will be part of the midfield battle that will decide this one. Friberg’s ability to shut down Acosta’s newfound range of passing, and feed the ball to Lodeiro will make or break Seattle.

Keys to Three Points

Best Midfield in MLS?

Prior to Diaz injury, I would have said the best midfield in the league was Dallas, but without Diaz that is not the case. Seattle may be it, Lodeiro is better than Diaz in several ways, Alonso is a great bruiser and makes good moves going forward, and Ivanschitz or Friberg are both quality deep players. Gruezo and Acosta are going to have a hell of a time shutting that midfield down and an even tougher time without Diaz.

Learn L.A. Lessons.

Dallas played a smart game in Los Angeles, and while it wasn’t exciting, it was effective. Dallas shut L.A. down to a couple of half chances and managed to almost score off a few set pieces and counter attacks. This is the recipe to success in Seattle. Bunker down and play smart. A goal off a corner could be all Dallas needs to bring Seattle out and open up the field for counter attacking opportunities.

Taking Stock.

FC Dallas has had the club’s best season ever. With Diaz gone there are no expectations and personally, while a treble would be nice, I won’t be angry if they fall out to Seattle. It is important to keep our expectations in check and know that this team was the best in MLS this year, regardless of how the playoffs end.

Prediction

Dallas holds the line and gets a goal, but Seattle find one late to equalize.

My Prediction: Draw 1-1.