FRISCO, Texas – It was always going to come down to this.
Going into the Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs, FC Dallas knew it needed to win in Seattle at least once to advance in the best-of-three. Both teams won their home games, the series is tied 1-1, so Seattle hosts Game 3 on Friday, Nov. 10. To advance, FCD needs to win at Lumen Field – something it has only done once, and never in the postseason.
It’s not for a lack of trying. Including playoff games, Dallas has played 21 times in Seattle and accumulated a 1-14-6 record. That lone victory was back in May of 2011 when a Brek Shea goal gave FCD a 1-0 win at the formerly named Qwest Field. Twelve years on, Dallas is desperately looking for that second-ever win to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
“We know what to expect for next game,” said captain Paul Arriola after the Game 1 defeat in Seattle. “The beauty of the three-game series is being able to play the first one and then have another opportunity to come back.”
Dallas seized that opportunity in Game 2, earning a 3-1 win to force a rematch at Lumen Field. There’s hope it will be different this time around. If it is, FCD will need to be better in both boxes.
“We didn’t take our chances,” Arriola continued. “We gave up a penalty and when we were chasing the game, they created better chances than we did and finished it. But there’s no time to dwell on it. We know what we have to do. We can create chances just like we did tonight. It’s about burying them and if we do it, we’ll win games.”
Arriola was right. In Game 2, Dallas won 3-1 despite having fewer shots than Game 1 (seven, down from nine) and less of the ball (38% possession, down from 43%). FCD even accumulated more Expected Goals in the 2-0 away loss than they did in their home win (1.2 to 0.8). The big, unavoidable difference from Game 1 to 2 is Dallas was able to finish its chances in the second go-around.
If Dallas is going to get its second-ever win in Seattle on its 22nd visit, it’ll need to capitalize on those opportunities – which could come few and far between. The season depends on it.