FRISCO - With FC Dallas on the eve of its playoff match against the Seattle Sounders, we caught up with Seattle broadcast analyst Matt Johnson to discuss some of the major talking points from behind enemy lines.
Matt Johnson first touched on the absence of some key players in Seattle’s squad. Six players – Xavier Arreaga, Jordy Delem, Joevin Jones, Brad Smith, Gustav Svensson and Román Torres – all missed time this week due to international call-ups. While Dallas was also without Bryan Acosta, Reggie Cannon and Zdenek Ondrasek through international duty, Seattle has had to prepare for Saturday’s match without a large contingent of its starting lineup.
“Even though everyone is coming back healthy, the team is not practicing together, so that’s kind of a major issue,” Johnson said.
Home Field Advantage
Another talking point for Seattle is their strong home field advantage. CenturyLink Field is a notoriously difficult fixture for away teams, although Dallas did manage a scoreless draw there in September—its first point at the venue since 2011. While FCD was the only team to shutout the Sounders at home this year, head coach Brian Schmetzer has never lost a playoff game on home turf.
“Brian Schmetzer is 6-0 as a head coach at home in the playoffs. The record at home here during the playoffs is excellent. The home advantage is massive.” -Matt Johnson
When we asked Johnson about which FC Dallas players Seattle was talking about, there was little hesitation. Michael Barrios has been an ever-present fixture in Dallas’ Starting XI for the last few seasons, and the Colombian winger has been a constant threat.
“He (Brian Schmetzer) always brings up Michael Barrios. Michael Barrios is so dangerous on that right side. You can't necessarily contain how he gets the ball because he gets it so far away from goal, but he also drives at that right-hand side, drives to the touch line. You have to stop his service into the box.”
Saturday’s game pits Luchi Gonzalez – the youngest head coach in the postseason – against one of the most experienced in Brian Schmetzer. While Gonzalez is at the beginning of his MLS coaching career, he’s already garnering praise and respect from his more tenured peer.
“I know that Brian Schmetzer has a ton of respect towards Gonzalez,” Johnson added. “The soccer folks love him. I mean you just look at what he's done. The young names that he's signed. He’s coming up the ranks from youth ranks to first team. Very much respect for the club and the head coach.”