Seattle vs Houston – Thursday, November 30, 7:30 PM PT / 10:30 PM ET – CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington, United States
It only took the Seattle Sounders eleven minutes to kill the vague hope the Houston Dynamo ahead of the Western Conference Final. An early goal by Swedish newcomer Gustav Svensson provided the visitors with an early lead partly made possible by Houston’s poor set-piece defending, something Nicolás Lodeiro exploited to perfection.
Trailing by one goal and with more doubts than certainties in mind after conceding the infamous away goal only minutes after the first whistle, the Dynamo’s flaws were exposed, and the team turned into utter confusion. This logically favoured Seattle, who sat back and waited without any rush for their rivals to make another mistake. That error came only fifteen minutes later when Lodeiro effortlessly lead a three-man counter-attack started by Clint Dempsey against Houston’s line-formed defence. An accurate through ball left Joevin Jones through on goal before he was brought down inside the box by Jalil Anibaba who got sent off for making use of the last resource.
It was turning into the brewing of a perfect storm for Houston. However, Lodeiro’s penalty was denied after a great effort from Joe Willis. This would have been worth a fortune had Houston not let their former player Will Bruin (6 seasons, 50 goals) finish things up with a great direction-changing header just near the end of the first half. The second 45 minutes went by without any significant events, featuring an even more scared Dynamo and Dempsey even being subbed-off for there was no need to demand any more from him.
With a player set off and Alberth Elis suspended for yellow card accumulation, Houston will look to recreate the perfect second leg performed against the Portland Timbers. However, this time they will need to beat an unstoppable Seattle who have won their last four matches at home scoring 12 and conceding none apart from not having lost at the CenturyLink Field since May 6 against Toronto FC.
Seattle vs Houston – Players to look out for:
Clint Dempsey #2 – Seattle Sounders
Seattle’s most crucial designated player was largely missed last season when the Sounders marched all the way to the MLS Cup title, fuelled by impressive newcomer Nicolás Lodeiro and a convenient strike of momentum. Now with the opportunity of winning a second title, this time on the field, the Texas-born maestro is determined to make a good impression in Houston after stating his intentions against Vancouver with the two goals that sealed the semi-final. Dempsey’s contribution could be limited to only a single half as it has been the case in recent matches, make sure to enjoy every minute of it.
Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres #9 – Houston Dynamo
After signing for Dynamo from Chivas USA in 2015, the Mexican striker struggled to find form in his first season but would later go on to become the franchise’s top scorer with 14 goals, while also setting the record for the club’s most productive season in front of goal. Now undergoing a goal drought, Cubo believes the clash against Seattle is an excellent opportunity to regain his form as the lethal finisher he is. His goals will be much needed for Seattle’s formidable defence. The Mexican’s intelligence will be very needed if Houston want to turn this series around.
Seattle vs Houston – Match Stats
- Previous to the first leg last week, Seattle had never won in Houston in the entire MLS era. The record has now changed to (1-4-4).
- The only time the two franchises met in playoff stages was back in 2009. Houston on defeated Seattle 1-0 on aggregate to advance to the conference final.
- Seattle striker Will Bruin will get the chance to hammer the last nail in his former club’s coffin after scoring against them in the first leg.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Seattle vs Houston 3-1
Seattle vs Houston – Possible Lineups
Frei – Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam – Svensson, Roldan – Jones, Dempsey, Lodeiro –Bruin
Coach: Brian Schmetzer
Willis – Remick, Machado, Senderos, Anibaba – Cabezas, Alexander – Alex, Martinez, Manotas – Torres
Coach: Wilmer Cabrera
Nicolás Miremont is a born and raised Boca Juniors fan, but his heart has a special place for Manchester United, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Dynamo Kiev. Miremont loves to support the underdogs. Miremont enjoys watching smaller competitions especially those from Eastern Europe, but also his native Argentina. Follow him on Twitter @Miremont_Nico