By: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – Luck proved to be the Sounders’ cruel mistress on Friday night as they settled for one point in a 1-1 draw with the visiting Houston Dynamo, but spared them from the dismal statistic of remaining scoreless over three matches for the second time in the club’s history.
The first signal that this wasn’t to be Seattle’s day came in the 3’ after Referee Ramon Hernandez deemed a foul on Sounders’ midfielder Erik Friberg by Houston’s Hunter Freeman deserving of merely a yellow card. During the run on goal, Freeman pulled down Friberg inside the box and the home fans loudly voiced their feelings that it should have resulted in a sending off with a loud chorus of boos.
After remaining scoreless over their first two games of this season, Seattle’s frustration was evidenced in their frenetic energy and buckshot approach in front of goal. With a club record of 15 shots in the first half, it seemed that the strategy was to keep sending in every ball and odds would have it that one would land in the back of the net. Or not.
Seattle best chance of the half came in the 27’ when forward O’Brian White’s header, off a beautiful pass from Friberg, was once again expertly saved by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. And again. And again. The missed chances certainly added entertainment and build up to and already highly charged game but also highlighted some of Seattle’s early season problems, which were addressed by Coach Sigi Schmid after the game. “A little has been bad luck and a little has been not good finishing. In practice we have tried to run thru exercises putting them in front of goal as much as possible, practicing crossing in front of the goal. We need to have the guys up front who can get the ball in the goal and if they aren’t doing it we need to find guys who can.”
Although Houston didn’t even really touch the ball offensively until the 35’, they gained the advantage in the 42’ when midfielder Geoff Cameron pounced on the rebound from teammate Lovel Palmer’s free kick that originally went off the cross bar, setting up the shot that got by Seattle’s Kasey Keller.
The shots kept coming in the second half but the Sounders finally got satisfaction in the 80’ with an unassisted goal from Steve Zakuani. Goalkeeper Keller wasn’t significantly tested in the second half as the Sounders continued to pressure the Dynamo’s back line But Gig Harbor, WA native son Tally Hall was indisputably Houston’s player of the game and served well as the thorn in Seattle’s side.
Hernandez issued an inexplicable yellow card to Sounders’ defender Leo Gonzalez for diving after he was clearly clipped and brought down by Dynamo defender Andre Hainault well inside the box in the 73’. Coach Schmid was understandably baffled by the call. “I think we should have had a PK. For sure the guy came thru. Leo tried to get out of it, what should he have done? Left his leg in there to get his ankle snapped and be out for five or six months? But referees don’t call fouls if you slide out of the tackle; if you leave your leg in there to get broken they call it.”
Schmid commented on the slow season start, “Obviously I think we deserved more tonight than a tie. I am very proud of the team and the effort they put. What I am also proud of is that our fans want us to come out and battle and anyone who was here tonight knows we left everything out on that field. I think this is the first step and we are headed in the right direction and we’ll take the point and head down to San Jose.”