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Tukwila, Wash. • The lesson was supposed to have been learned a year ago, when one lapse during the MLS Cup playoffs and one extra goal made all the difference for the Seattle Sounders.

Clearly it wasn't.

"We found ourselves in the same exact situation right now, so we didn't learn from anything," Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said.

For the second straight year, the Sounders go into a second-leg postseason home game facing a 3-0 deficit and knowing how unlikely it will be to advance. The Sounders face Los Angeles in the second leg of the Western Conference finals Sunday night, with the winner possibly in line to host the MLS Cup final Dec. 1 thanks to Houston's 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

There's a reason this feels so familiar to Seattle, and not in a good way. Seattle lost 3-0 to Real Salt Lake in a sloppy performance in the first leg of the conference semifinals last season. Seattle made a furious rally in the second leg, winning 2-0, but it fell short in the aggregate.

Now Seattle finds itself back in the same circumstance.

"The only thing we learned from that game is you just have to bust it. You never know what is going to happen in a game, and if you let down, let your guard down for one second, good teams are going to bite you, and that's what happened again this past weekend," Evans said. "The only thing we can take from last year's game at home against Salt Lake is we played desperate. We played like a team with our backs up against the wall. That's it."

Seattle's problem in the first leg with Los Angeles was playing with a conservative approach and a massive defensive lapse at the wrong time. Seattle tried to control possession in the midfield and convert on whatever chances it could create.

Instead, it was the Galaxy with chances galore and converting their opportunities around Seattle's goal.

The Associated Press

Eastern Conference

Washington • In order to advance to the MLS Cup for the first time in eight years, D.C. United is going to need to score two goals Sunday — maybe more, if the club concedes any. In such a tight spot, the natural instinct is to throw players forward and attack without restraint.

But United is taking a counter-intuitive approach heading into the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals.

"We know we have to be aggressive, we know we have to go after them," United coach Ben Olsen said, "but we also have to be patient."

The Dynamo won the opener at home last Sunday, 3-1, and would advance to the Dec. 1 championship game against Los Angeles or Seattle with a victory, draw or one-goal defeat at RFK Stadium. If United wins by two goals, 30 minutes of overtime and, if necessary, a penalty kick tiebreaker would follow.

"We know what we have to do," defender Dejan Jakovic said.

The Washington Post —

Playoffs schedule

Eastern Conference championship

Nov. 11 • Houston 3, D.C. United 1

Sunday • D.C. United vs. Houston, 2 p.m.

Western Conference championship

Nov. 11 • Los Angeles 3, Seattle 0

Sunday • Seattle vs. Los Angeles, 7 p.m.


Dec. 1 • Eastern champion vs. Western champion, 4:30 p.m.

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