A golden opportunity awaits the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, as they head to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas in Match 2 of the Round One series between the sides in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Win the match, and the Sounders are through to the Western Conference Semifinals following their 2-0 victory in Match 1 on Monday night at Lumen Field. Should FC Dallas take a victorious result, it would force a Match 3 back in Seattle on November 10 – an outcome the Rave Green would like to avoid if at all possible.
"We're going to have to weather the storm because they're going to come out hot," said goalkeeper Stefan Frei at training this week. "They're going to try to overwhelm us, they're going to try to get the crowd into the game, so we're going to have to be ready from minute one to make sure that we're not going to concede on something sloppy."
"If it is because of their sheer brilliance, then so be it. But we better make it as hard as possible."
With aggregate scoring no longer a factor in the new playoff format, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer also noted that he expects FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estévez to have his team playing all-out from the opening whistle.
"[Estévez] can be more aggressive," said Schmetzer. "He can come out and try and be on the front foot. Whoever wins, we win, they go out, if they win, they keep going."
"...Hard to beat. Sometimes they say that about our team. So, they've had a good season. Good center backs, I like their center backs. Goalkeeping, solid. All around, it's a good team."
For Seattle, the hope will be that the match can offer a continuation of the uptick in form they've experienced during their stretch of the regular season and into the playoff opener, which was delivered by a penalty-kick goal from Albert Rusnák and a second-half insurance tally from Jordan Morris.
Coming off that victory, Seattle are now unbeaten across their last 10 matches – a run that Frei said has instilled confidence within the group. With a challenging playoff road match ahead, the veteran backstop said his team's improved decision-making and execution of late will hopefully offer a boost that can help them advance.
"Once we settle into the game, we've found some confidence in the last 10 games," said Frei. "To have possession, to be patient, when to be explosive, I think we're making those decisions much, much better these days than we have in the past. When you make those decisions on how to play, that can completely change a game."
"When you see it working, it gives you a lot of confidence, and I think that's where we're at right now."
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