SEATTLE – Go ahead and call it. If Nouhou is high in the offensive attack, something fantastical is going to happen.
Against FC Dallas, the Sounders defender was on the left wing with the ball. He lofted a cross into the box, teammate Jordan Morris connecting midair to head in a goal in the 74th minute.
Fire pyrotechnics shot in the air as the players celebrated the insurance score in Game 1 of the best-of-three opening round playoff series. The Sounders held on to win 2-0 at Lumen Field.
The teams will travel to Texas for Game 2 on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. If Dallas wins to even the series, Game 3 is slated for Nov. 10 at Lumen.
Dallas hasn’t won in Seattle since 2011. The visitors also haven’t defeated the Sounders in the postseason since 2015 when FCD won a conference semifinal matchup.
But they had multiple chances to end the skid Monday.
Seattle turnovers in the midfield gifted Dallas two opportunities to net the opening goal in the first half. FCD forward Jesus Ferreira watched Sounders keeper Stefan Frei use a kick save to nullify the first try in the 23rd minute. Ferreira’s second attempt, an open look in the box, high over the crossbar in the 27th minute.
The Sounders were artistic and daring in creating their scoring plays in the opening half. But it was a grimy hustle from Cristian Roldan that led to the goal.
Roldan’s brother Alex had a long throw-in that Cristian and Dallas defender Marco Farfan tugged and pushed to gain control of on the right flank. Cristian won, but Farfan tripped him in the box, referee Joe Dickson immediately calling for the penalty.
Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnak, who made his first playoff appearance for the club, took the shot in the 43rd minute. He shuffled toward the ball and unleashed a right-footed strike. Dallas keeper Maarten Paes was in position for the save, but it bounced off the post and dribbled into the net for a 1-0 lead.
A Monday matchday was a first of the season for the Sounders. The club drew 30,741 fans, most dressed in parkas to keep warm on a chilly fall night.
Nouhou’s return to his starting slot at left back was the only lineup change from the squad that closed the season with a 2-0 road win against St. Louis City earlier this month.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer called on his strongest attack Monday and it didn’t include designated players Raul Ruidiaz and Nico Lodeiro.
Ruidiaz recently returned to full training after suffering from back spasms. But the striker has only been available for 18 matches this season and started 11. The Sounders are 3-0-1 with Lodeiro as a sub.
Lodeiro entered the match in the 66th minute for Leo Chu. Lumen erupted in cheers and serenaded Lodeiro with his signature song as he ran onto the pitch.
The Uruguayan international originally singed with the Sounders in 2016 and his latest contract expires in December. He was displeased with conversations regarding his future, announcing this month that is his final season in Seattle.
Lodeiro showed his quality for Morris’ goal. He received the secondary assist for angling pass to Nouhou for the cross.
Ruidiaz subbed on for Morris in the 83rd minute.