SEATTLE -- The Seattle Sounders exploded for three goals in an eight-minute span early in the second half on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field, riding a tally from Nelson Valdez and a brace from Nicolas Lodeiro to a 3-0 romp over FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Valdez opened the scoring in the 50th minute with a headed finish of a cross from Joevin Jones, while Lodeiro followed up with a pair of tallies in the 55th and 58th minute to pace Seattle.
It was the second tally in as many games for Valdez following his dramatic Knockout Round game-winner against Sporting Kansas City on Thursday night, and this third goal in five career playoff games with the Sounders. Despite failing to score at all during the regular season, Valdez is now tied with Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson for the most postseason goals in franchise history.
Lodeiro, meanwhile, added his first two postseason goals with the Sounders to give the team a commanding lead headed into the second leg of the series on Nov. 6 in Frisco, Texas.
The Sounders almost struck in just the fourth minute after rookie forward Jordan Morris made a run into the box and flicked a cross into the path of a charging Valdez. But FCD goalkeeper Chris Seitz managed to swat away Valdez’s chested attempt to deny Seattle the early lead.
Seattle almost struck again in the 27th minute after a shot from midfielder Erik Friberg deflected off Seitz, forcing FCD center back Matt Hedges into a pair of goal line clearances that kept the match scoreless.
Morris had Seattle’s final opportunity of the half off a rocket shot that he put on target but Seitz also blocked that attempt and the game remained scoreless into halftime.
The hosts found their breakthrough shortly after the second-half kickoff, however, courtesy of Valdez, who stabbed a header past Seitz at the back post off a cross from Jones.
Lodeiro doubled the lead just five minutes later after Morris broke free and fed him up for an easy tap-in. Lodeiro followed up with his second goal of the evening just three minutes later, finishing another breakaway to give the Sounders the 3-0 lead and sending the crowd of 37,073 onlookers at CenturyLink into bedlam.
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei picked up his second straight postseason shutout and is now unbeaten in six home playoff games all-time (5-0-1). The Sounders managed the shutout without the help of center back Roman Torres (hamstring), and instead leaned on Zach Scott in the starting role, giving the 36-year-old Sounders veteran his 350th career appearance across all competitions since joining the team during the USL era in 2002.
The series will resume next Sunday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco (6 p.m. PT; FS1/KIRO 97.3 FM).