When the LA Galaxy signed Jelle Van Damme, there were questions about how he'd adjust to Major League Soccer.
The Belgian put those worries to rest after a tremendous debut season. Much like his former Standard Liege teammate Laurent Ciman, Van Damme settled right away, helping the Galaxy concede just 39 goals compared to 46 in 2015.
Yes, that includes the Sounders, but the field is also ripe for an upstart.
One of the longtime explanations for the Seattle Sounders' repeated inability to advance to the MLS Cup final has been the strength of the competition. The West has been the power conference in MLS over the past decade-plus, producing 9 of 11 champions.
For the 2016 MLS regular season, the average attendance was 21,690, which is an 0.66% increase compared to last season.
The 21,690 number is the third year in a row that Major League Soccer has broken its own attendance record. And it means that the league now has a greater average attendance than Argentina's Primera Division, France's Ligue Un and the Netherlands' Eredivisie.
Nicolas Lodeiro helped reinvent the Seattle Sounders attack. It is potent and multi-faceted, often running through the Uruguayan playmaker's feet. He won the Newcomer of the Year because of his success converting to MLS play and the surge in the standings when the Sounders became his and Brian Schmetzer's team.
We finally get around to discussing the win over FC Dallas.
Thanks to a rather long break in the MLS playoff schedule, it feels like quite a long time ago that the Seattle Sounders got past FC Dallas to qualify for the Western Conference finals. But here we are and the Sounders are actually looking like favorites against the Colorado Rapids.
Whew. Good thing we had a 3-0 cushion going into the second leg of the series. The Sounders used this advantage well, coming out smart and compact and forcing Dallas to chase the game. With just the right amount of counterattack and an ever-dependable defense, the Seattle team advanced with a 1-2 "win".
Following decreased viewership for the Knockout Round of the MLS Playoffs, FOX Sports 1 saw a 25% decrease in viewership for the Conference Semifinals compared to last season. None of FOX Sports 1's matches managed to break the 200,000-viewer mark with the series between Supporter's Shield winners FC Dallas and sixth seed Seattle Sounders averaging only 147,000 viewers over both legs.
Have you had enough voting this week? Didn't think so. What a huge match for the Seattle Sounders, holding on to defeat FC Dallas and move on to the Western Conference final for the third time in their MLS tenure.
An identical lineup to the first leg with identical subs, but it was a match that played out differently.
FC Dallas huffed and puffed, but theSeattle Sounders managed to progress to the Western Conference final despite a 2-1 loss in the second leg of their conference semifinal on Sunday at Toyota Stadium. The Sounders advanced 4-2 on aggregate.
Tesho Akindele scored the opening goal to send Toyota Stadium into a frenzy, but Nicolas Lodeiro's second-half strike all but sealed the Sounders' spot in the next round.
All four of the home teams in the second leg share something significant in common: they all have to comeback from a deficit in order to advance to their respective conference finals.
FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC and the Colorado Rapids were all shut out in their opening playoff matches on the road last weekend and each will have to dig deep if they want a chance to advance.
If FC Dallas is to rebound from a disastrous first leg to keep hopes of a treble alive, history will have to be made. If FC Dallas needs some sort of inspiration, looking back to last year will have to suffice.
FC Dallas enters the second leg of its Western Conference Semifinals series against the Seattle Sounders in a big hole after suffering a 3-0 loss in the opening match last weekend.
En solo ocho minutos dentro del segundo tiempo los Seattle Sounders destruyeron al campeón de la temporada regular de la MLS (Supporter´s Shield), el FC Dallas con par de anotaciones del Nicolás LOREIDO y otra de Nelson VALDEZ quién se encargó de abrir el marcador al minuto 50 con su segundo gol de la temporada.
SEATTLE No Dempsey. No Ivanschitz. No Torres. No problem.
Hosting FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night, the surging Seattle Sounders topped FC Dallas 3-0 in front of 37,073 at CenturyLink Field. Nelson Valdez scored for the second time in two matches.
There was some talk that the Disciplinary Committee could add games to his suspension, but Alonso says that he's available against Real Salt Lake
After a tussle with Houston Dynamo's Will Bruin last week, Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was sent off for violent conduct. Alonso served the automatic punishment for such an offense, a one-match ban, against FC Dallas last Sunday.
After predicting a road win in Dallas, I looked pretty smart for almost 80 minutes. Unfortunately, a combination of poor play, missing players, and some suspect refereeing combined to see the mighty Sounders drop points in a game that they led, a first for the Schmetzer era. A resilient Dallas team that demonstrated, in the second half, why they are in the driver's seat for the Supporters shield, earned the 1-2 final score.
The team was a little rusty after the break, but the team clearly needed it
With a full two weeks between the Sounders' last match against FC Dallas and the first leg of the conference semifinals, the players and staff were able to take the weekend off to get refreshed (and healed up, in some cases).
Valdez scored his first two goals in a year this past week, and Jones has had a hand in all four Seattle playoff goals.
For Seattle Sounders FC, praise is in high supply for players like Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, who both made the shortlists for the Newcomer of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, respectively.
Seattle's Gem had been the apple of the Red's eye, even during their pursuit of Sebastian Giovinco.
With the treble still in play, FC Dallas must adapt their playing style to accommodate Mauro Diaz's absence. Their squad gets their first test in adaptability this Sunday, as they face the Sounders in the rubber match of a back and forth regular season series.
PRO announced the referee's for the Conference Semifinals first legs on Friday.
The Seattle Sounders moved on to the Western Conference semifinals to take on FC Dallas over the next two weeks. On Friday, PRO announced who would be the main in charge for the first leg on Sunday night - it will be everyone's favorite referee Ricardo Salazar.
The Sounders midfielder said that he was "testing" the referee, hoping to encourage consistent calls.
Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan isn't particularly known to be a poor tackler, but one of his tackles against FC Dallas on Sunday raised a few eyebrows. Roldan's 26th minute challenge on Kellyn Acosta earned him a yellow card, but MLSSoccer.
Just minutes after the Sounders evened up tonight's score, FC Dallas managed to get the ball into Stefan Frei's net again. A deep cross wasn't dealt with by the Sounders' defense, going right to an unmarked Mauro Rosales near the far post; the former Sounder headed it back across goal and right to Maximiliano Urruti, who headed the ball (unchallenged) past Frei and into the corner.
Here is a nice little cheat sheet to look out to see how the Sounders can advance in this two-legged series
In case you missed it or have been living under a rock since Saturday night, your Seattle Sounders put on a show Sunday night in Seattle. The 3-0 thumping of FC Dallas was a bit of a surprise to some people (not me) and the Sounders have put themselves in a good position to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Even though it's no surprise, Osvaldo Alonso's return to the Sounders' starting XI for the final match of the regular season is absolutely crucial. His red card against the Houston Dynamo meant that he served a one match suspension against FC Dallas last weekend. Other than Alonso, the rest of the starting lineup is the same as it was in Dallas.
There's one more week left...who will step up in the Power Rankings?
The playoff line is as red as ever, as we draw to the final week of the season. Week 33 saw a couple teams finally squander their chances to make the playoffs, while in the Western Conference, 4 teams will fight it out for the final 3 spots above that red line.