Sounders Survive and Advance in First Round of Playoffs

The match had it all.

From a long distance golazo, to epic saves on both ends, to seven goals, including a game-winner in the final seven minutes of extra time, and everything in-between. All in a single-elimination playoff game. How's your blood pressure?

"I think this will take me a couple of days to figure out exactly what we did well, but then also what we can be better at, and what we can learn from the game," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said.

Whether you're reading this Saturday evening, Sunday morning, or even Monday afternoon, if you're a Sounders fan, you are likely still in a haze of jubilation after that 4-3 instant classic in the First Round of the MLS Playoffs between the No. 7 seed FC Dallas and No. 2 seed Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

And in case that haze has faded, let's bring it back with some highlights before we go any further.

 

The Sounders needed to start fast against a Dallas team that came to Seattle on September 18 and sat most of their team behind the ball, playing for a 0-0 result. Successfully, it should be noted, as the match last month ended scoreless. Capable of playing the same way, the Rave Green couldn't let Dallas get comfortable in the same fashion.

They didn't, as two goals in the first 22 minutes by Raul Ruidiaz, from long distance, and Jordan Morris gave Seattle fans a few moments to breath before Reggie Cannon got one back in the 38th minute.

"We had a bunch of chances that we could have gone up 3-0, but then we let teams back in the game, but at the end of the day we won and that’s all that matters," Morris said.

After a second half that looked opposite of the first, two goals for Dallas and one by Seattle, Morris again in the 74th minute, the match continued into a 30-minute extra time period that had fans remembering what happened less than a year ago in the playoffs when the Portland Timbers came into Seattle, scored in extra time, and eventually ended the Sounders' season with penalty kicks.

This year, however, was not destined for the emotionally grueling nature of penalties. Morris, fighting through cramps, leapt and headed in the game-winning goal in the 113th minute, earning himself a hat trick and the Sounders a trip to the Western Conference Semifinals.

"They didn’t want to go to PK’s, they were all tired," Schmetzer said. "Taking a PK with heavy legs in never a good thing, so...that group, is a very complex, talented, funny, young, kind of group."

Stefan Frei, who called the match "strange", came up with five saves and two key punches in the waning seconds, once again illustrating his ability to shine brightest when the playoff lights are on. "I think I got a taste of what the playoffs are like with the new format. The intensity was there, felt that in the stadium," Frei said.

Seattle also saw the return of midfielder Victor Rodriguez from an internal oblique injury that held the Spaniard out from Decision Day two weeks ago. Rodriguez entered in the 67th minute for Brad Smith, accumulating four shots and two chances created in 53 minutes. Joevin Jones started the match on the right wing, playing 97 minutes, which lends credence to the thought that Rodriguez could start in Wednesday's Western Conference Semifinal instead of Jones.

Up next for the Rave Green will be either No. 3 seed Real Salt Lake or the No. 6 seed Portland Timbers, who face off on Saturday evening in Sandy, Utah. Tickets for Wednesday's match, 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field, will go on sale Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

Check out KJR's Postgame Show from the 4-3 win below, featuring Jackson Felts and Steve Zakuani, plus interviews with some of Seattle's key players in Saturday's victory.

 
 
 
 

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