FC Dallas put the disappointment of losing both the first leg and Alan Velasco behind them with a rapid start to force a third game with Seattle Sounders FC with a 3-1 home win in game two.
“We had a really good beginning of the game and we were able to close the game the right way,” said FC Dallas captain Paul Arriola. “We just have to be able to control the game a little better. We dominated the ball during a great part of the game but we can never be too confident because Seattle is a very dangerous team.”
Nico Estevez made three changes from the 2-0 loss at Lumen Field. Alan Velasco’s ACL tear meant Liam Fraser getting the start and a move to a single-pivot 4-3-3 with Asier Illarramendi often dropping in as a second six.
Bernard Kamungo was only rated for 25 minutes last week but was considered fit enough to start in place of Jader Obrian on the right wing. Marco Farfan dropped to the bench for Sam Junqua to get the start at left back.
Seattle was unchanged in their 4-2-3-1, although it often resembled a three-man back line with Alex Roldan playing an extremely aggressive line on the right.
FC Dallas tried to get off to a hot start in Seattle and did exactly that as Paul Arriola nodded in a cross from Bernard Kamungo in the sixth minute. Paxton Pomykal capped off a strong period of possession to send the US U-23 forward down the right wing, and with a defender standing off him Bernie pulled out a left-footed delivery into the box.
Kamungo prodded and probed the Sounders back line early on winning a couple of free kicks around the box, notably with Nouhou picking up an early yellow in the 10th minute. Nkosi Tafari really should have doubled the lead with a point-blank header over the bar from the resulting set piece.
Moments later Kamungo had a run at Nouhou in the box and went down. Referee Rosendo Mendoza initially played on but after a VAR review, it was clear that the Seattle defender only made contact with the player with a penalty the verdict. Up stepped Jesus Ferreira to put the ball beyond Stefan Frei’s reach in the 18th minute to end his long goal drought. A moment that the team all reacted strongly to in the celebration.
Seattle finally came into the game after the second goal, with the game becoming more of a midfield battle for the remainder of the half. The Sounders dominated the possession from there on but were restricted to three missed shots as Liam Fraser, Nkosi Tafari, and Sebastien Ibeagha enjoyed a strong opening period.
Jordan Morris pulled a goal back two minutes after the break following a bizarre attempt by Bernard Kamungo to play a pass back into the Dallas half in acres of space. Morris reacted first to the loose ball, shrugging off a challenge by Ibeagha, before beating Tafari and Illarramendi, then slotting the ball inside Maarten Paes’ near post from close range. Assistant referee Brooke Mayo strangely raised the flag very late despite there being no case for offside, before being overruled by Mendoza.
The USMNT winger had the ball in the net again as the clock hit 55:00 but he was correctly flagged offside this time in receiving a pass from Joao Paulo.
Brian Schmetzer made his first move in the 59th minute, bringing in Nico Lodeiro for Leo Chu. The Uruguayan forward immediately saw a header saved by Paes.
Nico Estevez seemed to go back and forth on subs, bringing both Eugene Ansah and Sebastian Lletget back to the bench from the warm-up then sending them away again. Schmetzer meanwhile brought another big gun into the fight, in Raul Ruidiaz for Josh Atencio. Obed Vargas also replaced Joao Paulo in that 69th-minute change.
Bernard Kamungo would make way for Marco Farfan in the 73rd, and immediately Seattle had a strong call for a penalty as a breakaway saw Paes collect a cross while Raul Ruidiaz went to ground after clearly having his shirt pulled in the box by Jesus Ferreira. Surprisingly Mendoza opted not to point to the spot even after a review at the monitor.
Marco Farfan’s addition brought the formation to a 3-4-3 with Farfan often taking a higher position, sitting between the Roldans. Coach later confirmed that the change came as a response to Seattle overloading Dallas’ right with Ruidiaz.
The Dallas changes continued in the 82nd minute with Eugene Ansah and Jader Obrian replacing Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal. This immediately followed Obed Vargas almost squeezing the ball in from on the end line, with the loose ball skidding across the face of goal and out for a goal kick as several players chased.
Sheer grit seemed to prevent an equalizer in the 87th minute from a Roldan free kick. The ball met Ruidiaz’s head at the near post, with Paes making the stop low. Ibeagha tried to hack the ball away before Vargas redirected it toward goal, only for Ema Twumasi to clear a yard off the line and out of danger.
Jader Obrian sealed the win in the 90th minute on a 3-v-2 breakaway after the Colombian intercepted an errant pass. Obrian ran down the right channel with Jackson Ragen attempting to keep him at bay. With Paul Arriola cutting out wide from his central position, that forced Ragen to take a step wide and allow Obrian space to shoot low past Stefan Frei from outside the box. Estevez pulled captain Arriola soon after with Dante Sealy taking his place.
Obrian even had time for the customary missing a sitter in stoppage time, getting the connection wrong on a close-range volley off a peach of a cross by Ansah from the right side.
With the series level, Dallas returns to Seattle on Friday at 9 pm CST for the final game in the series and a Western Conference Semifinal against either MLS Cup holders LAFC or Vancouver on the line.