From Sounders FC media relations:
In MLS Cup conference semifinal series which have started with draws, the low seed has come back to win the second leg on the road in two of the six such situations in past seasons. Chicago won 4-0 at D.C. United in 2005. Last season, after tying the Dynamo 1-1 at Giants Stadium, New York won 3-0 in Houston.
Defense Does the Job
A scoreless draw was not exactly shocking, since Seattle and Houston had tied for the top defensive record during the regular season, each allowing 29 goals.
While defense doesn’t always win championships, it does quite often. The top defensive team has always qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs. In fact, the top defensive team has advanced to the MLS Cup Final eight of 13 times, wining five times.
Houston (and in its past life as the original San Jose Earthquakes) has been top defensive team six of last nine years, winning four MLS titles. The top defensive team has made the final eight of last 10 years.
Not Necessarily Safe at Home
Houston matched Real Salt Lake for the fewest home losses (1) during the regular season. However, the postseason can prove another matter.
Of the 16 playoff teams with fewest home losses in regular season, seven have lost at least one home playoff game. Two others earned a draw in their only postseason home date. In three of the last four seasons, the team with the fewest regular season home losses has been eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs at home.
In 2005, San Jose (now Houston) was held to a first round draw at home, losing on aggregate, 4-2, to Los Angeles. In 2007 the best home side, Chivas USA, was tied by Kansas City, 0-0, at home, and lost (1-0) on aggregate.
In 2008, Houston and Real Salt Lake each lost just once at home during the season. New York eliminated both the Dynamo (3-0) and RSL (1-0) with wins on the road.
Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans were each issued yellow cards during the first leg. If one of those players receives a caution on Sunday and Sounders FC advances, they would miss the Western Conference Final. The team’s three total cautions were the most in five games, dating back to the September 19 match with Chivas USA.