The Seattle Sounders continue their quest for yet more MLS Cup glory as they take on FC Dallas for a round one, game 3 in front of a home crowd (10pm ET Friday). Can Seattle build on what was a solid first-leg performance and get themselves in front? Or will the visitors, who are certainly not easy to beat, cause an upset? Read on for our soccer matchup preview with predictions & betting picks.
The tale so far
Having made the playoffs in rather simple fashion, finishing the regular season in second place in the Western Conference, Seattle Sounders were strongly fancied ahead of their first playoff game against FC Dallas, which they duly won by two goals to nil. However, that victory could not push them on to further glory, as they were beaten in the second game of the series, losing three goals to one. Thanks to the new best-of-three format, that means the series is locked at 1-1, so it is back to Lumen Field for the decider.
Dallas made it this far thanks to a less convincing effort over the course of the regular season. They only snuck into the top seven, thus avoiding that rather agonizing wildcard game to make it into the playoffs. Now that they are in the postseason, though, they’re certainly putting up a fight. It would have been quite easy to be deflated after that loss in Seattle the first time out. Nico Estévez’s men steadied themselves and turned in a very respectable effort to level up the series ahead of this final showdown.
Sounders patchy at home
The Sounders will likely fancy their chances of wrapping this series up once and for all now back on their own patch, but it’s not like their recent home record is particularly strong.
Prior to winning the first game against FC Dallas, they were stopped at home by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Brian Schmetzer’s men have now won just two of their last six in front of a home crowd. Fortunately, they have only lost once during that time and tend to be very good at hanging on in games, even when not at their best.
FC Dallas inconsistent on the road
Much like the hosts at home, Friday’s visitors have struggled to be consistent away from the comforts of home. Though Dallas have not won with great regularity on their travels, they have done a reasonable job of avoiding defeat. Sure, they lost in Seattle recently, but before that, they had gone four traveling games without defeat and perhaps this preview shouldn’t overlook that.
With the likes of Jesus Ferreira, who comes here off the back of scoring in the second game of the series, up top, the visitors are always going to carry a threat. It can’t be said that they generally struggle for goals on the road, as they have only failed to score in two of their last eight away games.
Closer than ever
These are two teams with no secrets. They have faced each other four times since the start of the campaign. In fact, they have played each other four times since July, so both should know what to expect. For the most part, it has been tight. Each of the regular season renewals of this fixture ended 1-1. Although they’ve both beaten each other by a two-goal margin since then, you wouldn’t exactly say that either side has exercised any real superiority.
What may worry visiting fans is that they have not seen their team win at Lumen Field since 2019 and even that was a non-competitive pre-season victory. FC Dallas have not emerged victorious from a competitive fixture at Lumen Field since winning a regular season game by a goal to nil back in 2011.
Both teams to get competitive offensively
What there is here are recent and relevant efforts to draw upon, which is not to be ignored. In circumstances that are certainly not typical in the normal realm of soccer, this is the third time that the pair have faced off in quick succession.
As touched on in this preview above, it’s the fourth time that the pair have met since July. Both teams have scored in three of those four renewals, and if the previous two games are anything to go by then both could find the net here.
When FC Dallas won by three goals to one just a few days ago, both found it quite easy to fashion relatively solid goal-scoring opportunities. Even though only one team scored when they met at Lumen Field just before that, both created chances and they easily exceeding 1.00 expected goals each in that game. Moreover, when these two locked horns in Seattle during the regular season, both found the net.
Furthermore, the visitors will know by now that Seattle are at their best at home, especially offensively, which means that Nico Estévez’s men cannot afford to only sit back. They will look to hit on the break, utilizing the pace and directness of Ferreira and Arriola. That worked a treat last time out, so we really shouldn’t be surprised if they get involved offensively here, even if everything about their previous games against Seattle, coupled with their away record in general, suggests that they’ll fail to keep a clean sheet.
Crucially, as most indicators point towards a game where both teams find the net, there really does appear to be some value at the offshore USA bookies by taking that BTTS wager. So for the predictions and betting picks for this MLS playoff preview, we recommend this one: