MLS Playoffs – Seattle Sounders v FC Dallas Preview (30/10/16)

Seattle preview

The Sounders progressed to this round thanks to a late 1-0 win against SKC on Thursday night. Many people would say that this was a fortunate success. SKC had the better of the game, came closest to breaking the deadlock and even had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. But Nelson Valdez struck very late to enable Seattle to progress. The hosts looked nervous in that fixture and perhaps now with less pressure on their shoulders they might produce a better performance. They suddenly go from being a fancied favourite, to an underdog facing the Supporters Shield and US Open Cup champions. Brian Schmetzer’s men are unlikely to make too many changes, although centre back Romain Torres is rated questionable with a hamstring injury. I’d imagine Bad Jones will get the nod if Torres missed out, but he’s another who has been battling injuries of late. Seattle have been keeping a lot of clean sheets at home recently and I dare say they would love to travel to Dallas with another in tact, even if the match ended 0-0.

Dallas preview

So far, FCD have achieved the double this season, winning the Supporters Shield and also the US Open Cup. Whether or not they can now go on and achieve an unprecedented treble remains to be seen. All season long they've been one of the most balanced and consistent outfits, that's what makes them so good. Dallas are such a strong technical team and they have have quality all over the field. One piece of bad news for them is that key playmaker Mauro Diaz is ruled out for the rest of the season due to a torn achilles tendon. He is so vital for them going forwards in a creative sense and will be badly missed. I expect Dallas will lean on their defensive strength in this first leg. They would be happy to go back with a 0-0 in their pocket and I think the priority will be to keep a clean sheet. The likes of Matt Hedges at the back are so solid and dependable and Dallas can make themselves really hard to break down. At the other end of the field they have strong counter attacking ability but I expect them to proceed with caution and not take too many risks.

Conclusion & betting analysis

These two teams met in the playoffs last season at the exact same stage and eventually penalties were needed to separate them. I think both teams will see this first leg as a fixture to ‘set things up’ for the return leg in Frisco. Dallas know they are so strong at home that any sort of draw, or even a narrow defeat would be an acceptable outcome. Seattle meanwhile, could be a little bit flat following an exhausting encounter with SKC just three nights ago. I’m not sure the Sounders will be at their best physically and they themselves would probably be happy to avoid defeat. Unlike teams such as LA Galaxy or Toronto FC this weekend who probably feel that a home leg victory is essential, Seattle would probably take their chances heading into Dallas  level pegging, especially as they could rest fully for a week. Of all the playoff contests this weekend I find this the most difficult to predict. The bet I am suggesting is under 2.5 goals because I think it will be tight and cagey. However, this is easily my least confident pick of the round and I would not recommend staking too heavily here, this could easily be a no bet contest. But I think a 0-0 is possible. If any team did get ahead they would more than likely just try and sit on the advantage by parking the bus.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet 0.5 unit : Under 2.5 goals @ 1.81