The Seattle Sounders are hosting the Houston Dynamo on Monday. Here is everything you need to know.
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT at CenturyLink Field (TICKETS)
WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on JOEtv and Youtube TV.
WHERE TO LISTEN: The match will air on 950 KJR AM and El Rey 1360 AM.
2018 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders: 14-11-5 (47 points, 5th West), Dynamo: 9-13-8 (35 points, 10th West)
FORM GUIDE (most recent first): Seattle: WLLWW, Houston: WDWLL
PREVIOUS MEETING: The two sides last met in the 2017 Western Conference Championship, which the Sounders won 5-0 on aggregate. In the First Leg, a 2-0 road win for Seattle, Gustav Svensson opened the scoring from a Nicolás Lodeiro corner kick before Will Bruin doubled the lead with a powerful header in the 42nd minute. The Sounders then booked their place in their second consecutive MLS Cup with a resounding 3-0 win at CenturyLink Field behind goals from Víctor Rodríguez, Clint Dempsey and Bruin.
The Sounders celebrate their 2017 Western Conference title win over the Dynamo | Dan Poss
TEMPERS FLARE: Last season’s Western Conference Finals featured a red card in each leg for the Dynamo, portending another tense affair on Monday.
PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES: Monday’s match will feature two head coaches with diametrically opposed soccer philosophies. Brian Schmetzer likes his teams to dominate possession, working the ball from sideline to sideline until a gap opens up for a penetrating pass. Houston Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera, on the other hand, prefers his teams absorb pressure before launching lightning-quick counterattacks down the flanks.
BATTLE OUT WIDE: As Steve Zakuani alluded to on this week’s episode of Winging it with Zakuani, the Sounders-Dynamo fixture will be won out wide. The Sounders look to push the fullbacks high up the pitch, which provides width and allows the wide attacking midfielders to pinch inside. If they can consistently bomb forward into the attack, they’ll pin back the Dynamo’s dynamic wingers as they dictate tempo of the match.
CONTAINING MANOTAS: Houston’s 23-year-old Colombian No. 9 has been in a rich vein of form in 2018, scoring 15 goals from 29 appearances in the league. He’ll have his hands full, though, on Monday as he squares off Seattle’s stalwart center back Chad Marshall. If the likes of Svensson and Osvaldo Alonso can cut off passing lanes from the midfield, then Manotas will be starved of the service upon which he relies.
Stefan Frei in action against the Rapids last weekend | Lindsey Wasson
MR. 800: Goalkeeper Stefan Frei enters the match with 799 career MLS saves, making it likely that he’ll break the 800 mark against the Dynamo.
BEAR DOWN: Since joining Seattle from Houston ahead of the 2017 MLS season, Sounders forward Bruin has been lethal against his former club, tallying three goals and one assist across four appearances in the regular season and playoffs.
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: The makeup of Monday’s match will largely be determined by international call-ups. Five Dynamo players, including Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis, have been called up for the international window, while the Sounders could potentially be without the services of Raúl Ruidíaz, Lodeiro, Svensson and Jordy Delem.