With just one goal, the Sounders FC kept their season alive.
The Sounders advanced to the Western Conference semifinals on a chilly night at Lumen Field, as the left foot of midfielder Albert Rusnák and a lockdown performance from the Sounders defense made the difference in a 1-0 playoff victory over FC Dallas.
The win clinched the best-of-three series for the Sounders, one week after the team suffered a disappointing 3-1 Game 2 loss in Dallas, and sent Seattle to a knockout match against No. 3 seeded LAFC in the Western Conference semifinals in late November.
Rusnák’s game-winning goal came in the 36th minute, as Brazil-product João Paulo found him with a pass into the center box that Rusnak sneaked past Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes for the lead. The crowd of 33,048 roared with approval after 35 minutes of scoreless play, and screamed even louder when the final whistle made it official – the home team is moving on.
Rusnák’s goal was his second of the series, after he scored in Seattle’s 2-0 win over Dallas in game one on Oct. 30.
Fans groaned in disappointment and anticipation throughout the early part of the match, lamenting shots from Cristian Roldan, Joshua Atencio, and Albert Rusnák that all missed wide right, and attempts from the middle by Paulo and Jordan Morris that Paes stopped to keep the game scoreless in the 31st minute, but Rusnák rewarded their patience in the end.
The Sounders controlled the ball for 55.3% of the game, and outshot Dallas, 16-1, including four shots on goal, as the Sounders defense kept the visitors off-balance for most of the match. Dallas, playing without striker Jesús Ferreira and left back Marco Farfan due to “lower-body injuries,” didn’t attempt its first shot until minute 89.
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei finished his clean sheet night with just one save.
As the highest remaining seed in the Western Conference thanks to No. 8 Sporting Kansas City’s upset win over No. 1 seed St. Louis City FC, the Sounders have home-field advantage until the MLS Cup, and will face LAFC when the playoffs resume after a 12-day break for international competition.
The semifinals and finals will be played between November 25 and December 3, but the exact date of the Sounders next match is yet to be announced as of Saturday night.
This is the first time Seattle has advanced to the Western Conference semifinals since 2020.