TUKWILA, Wash. — Seattle Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer said the message to his team after its 3-0 win over FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday was that it wasn’t done yet.
Despite having a commanding aggregate lead, Schmetzer and the coaching staff know there’s still more work to be done. The biggest challenge will be keeping the players focused on the task at hand on Sunday in Frisco, Texas (6 p.m. PT; FS1/KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360AM).
“I’ve said since day one that these are must-win games, and it is still a must-win game,” Schmetzer said.
Seattle has a 94 percent chance to make the Western Conference Finals according to ESPN's Soccer Power Index, but FC Dallas is the Supporters’ Shield winner for a reason. FCD lost only once at home all season and was tied for the second-most wins in the league. To think that Oscar Pareja’s team would roll over would be naïve and potentially fatal.
“I showed [the team] some film this morning of things I wasn’t quite happy with,” Schmetzer said. “We need to make sure that we grow and we learn and prepare for teams. This league is so full of parity that if we don’t do that, then we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as a coaching staff.
“You risk losing the game over one small detail you might have overlooked.”
Center back Roman Torres is still day-to-day as he recovers from a tight hamstring and did not participate in full training on Tuesday. Schmetzer, though, was quick to yet again praise the work of Zach Scott. The veteran replaced Torres and started alongside Chad Marshall on Sunday and led the team to its fourth shutout in its last seven matches.
Seattle started in a shuffled formation in the first leg with Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro on the flanks and torched FCD’s outside backs in its defensive 5-3-2 formation. Morris had one of his best attacking performances of the season on the wing, and with Alvaro Fernandez still battling a hamstring injury, Morris may very well get the nod out wide again this Sunday, especially given the sudden emergence of Nelson Valdez at forward.
The Sounders have myriad scenarios that would send them through to the next round, but they are not going to sit back and let FC Dallas dictate the pace. Seattle wants to play the way that got it there with smart and balanced soccer.
“We’re going to try and win the game,” Schmetzer said. “We’re not going to sit back and defend for 90 minutes.”