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Seattle Sounders rise to occasion vs. FC Dallas: “It’s playoff time” | MLSSoccer.com

Seattle Sounders rise to occasion vs. FC Dallas: “It’s playoff time” | MLSSoccer.com

Monday night’s 2-0 victory at Lumen Field to begin their Round One Best-of-3 series against FC Dallas may not have been a full-scale blowout. But after the match, head coach Brian Schmetzer praised a “professional win” powered by a penalty-kick opener from Albert Rusnák (43′) and a second-half insurance tally from Jordan Morris (74′), even as star Designated Players Nicolás Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz continue to serve in super-sub capacities.

“I thought the guys all played well, they all put energy, effort, application,” Schmetzer said. “I think our trainings have been good. I think the effort and application of our training sessions have been good.

” … I think that group that I started is kinda coming together. I’m sure there will be questions about Nico and Raúl coming up and they’ve been such a massive part of this club, such great players for the club. But the guys that started tonight were the ones that have been scoring some goals, so let’s see how that ends up.”

Nouhou masterclass

Nouhou, Seattle’s Cameroonian international defender, has long been a fan-favorite in Seattle for his exuberant play style and propensity for nullifying opposing attackers. In Game 1, he might have had his best match yet in an MLS career that’s involved 168 regular-season appearances.

In addition to putting in a workhorse shift that helped blank FC Dallas, the 26-year-old’s pinpoint cross in the 74th minute allowed Morris to sky for a lead-doubling header.

“I thought that was one of his better games that I’ve seen since he’s been at the club,” Schmetzer said. “Lockdown defensively in the first half. [Jáder] Obrian‘s a talented player, didn’t get anything past him.

“His offensive contributions, those were a bonus. … He understood those moments. He created good opportunities for himself. His physical play of being able to run past people, even when he was tired, I thought he had a tremendous performance tonight.”

“Job’s not done”

If the Sounders end the series at Toyota Stadium on Saturday evening (9 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), Morris said his team has to be ready to take on a desperate opponent that knows their season is on the line. An FCD win, and the teams return to Lumen Field on Nov. 10 for a winner-takes-all Game 3.

“I think it’s a great result obviously to win that first game, but now we know the job’s not done and now we’ve got to go to Dallas and we know that it’s a tough environment to be able to go there and play,” said the US international forward. “We know they’re going to be really motivated and it’s do-or-die for them, so it’s going to be a different game.

“They’re going to come out flying. So we’re going to have to match that intensity. But our goal is to get a win and end the series, so it’ll be fun. It’ll be a battle.”

Road trips to Frisco, Texas are known as some of the most difficult in MLS. But for a Rave Green group that’s battle-tested and riding a 10-game unbeaten streak (5W-0L-5D), Rusnák expects his team to embrace the challenge.

“I think playing on the road is just hard in this league,” Rusnák said. “Doesn’t matter where you go, the game on the road is always harder than the game at home.

” … But right now, you know, it’s playoff time. We can’t pick and choose [where we play]. It’s just our opponent and we have a few days to get ready for them. This is the third time we’ve played them this year, so we know what to expect, which is on that Saturday we have to be ready and we have to be at our best.”

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