Quick start crucial in Orange’s crush
By Chris Hockman
HOUSTON — The Seattle Sounders FC made the trip to a typically hot and humid Houston, and it was the Dynamo who spoiled Dempsey’s homecoming as they managed a 3-1 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday. Two goals from Giles Barnes and an additional marker from Will Bruin more than cancelled out Shalrie Joseph’s first score in a Sounders uniform.
New signee Clint Dempsey was greeted by a loud cheer in the MLS city closest to his home town of Nacogdoches, Texas, as a packed BBVA Compass Stadium welcomed the United States national team striker home.
The Sounders went for it right from the kickoff with fluid passing them to get a loosening shot on target as they looked to hit Houston early.
After that initial burst Houston came back into it and looked dangerous, regularly securing an overlap on the Seattle defense, but poor finishing and decision making would cost them.
In the ninth minute Brad Davis had a golden opportunity to open the scoring, but after winning the ball on the edge of the box and breaking through the Seattle defense, he shot wide.
A good chance in the 16th. minute fell to Seattle as Dempsey was able to control possession and set up Lamar Neagle, but his shot also missed.
Houston made Seattle pay for that miss. The Dynamo broke with numbers into the box as Davis’ ball handling won time, and he laid it back for Barnes to hit it into the top right corner.
Things went from bad to worse for Seattle in the 22nd. minute. Barnes fired a rocket from 35 yards that left Gspurning with no chance. The goal, his sixth of the season, gave the Derby and West Brom alum his first multigoal MLS game.
Gspurning made up for that in the 31st minute. A blocked shot by the Seattle defense fell for Davis on the run, and his ensuing shot was well saved by the Seattle shot blocker, down low and to his left.
The Neagle-Dempsey partnership continued to improve, and in the 33rd. minute Neagle was able to find Dempsey, only to be denied by goalkeeper Tally Hall. That was the last meaningful chance of the first half, and Houston entered the break 2-0 up.
The second half started well for Seattle, like the first, but again for all their early possession they couldn’t put chances away, with Dempsey too often left open but not found by Neagle.
A large part of why Dempsey wasn’t found often was Houston’s heavy treatment of the US National Team star, who was routinely fouled or held back to prevent a run.
The Dynamo thought they’d made it three in the 58th. minute when Jermaine Taylor headed it in off a free kick, but his poorly timed run ruled the goal offside.
Houston wrestled back control after the hour mark, and in the 63rd. minute again almost made it three, from Bruin this time. Seattle burned Houston for that miss.
A Marc Burch free kick was deflected and found Joseph, who just got it into the net in a crowded penalty area.
That goal put Houston on the back foot. They struggled to contain the Sounders and got nervous at the back, leaving space far too often, but they somehow rescued the bad situations.
Houston effectively put the match to bed when Bruin was quickest to react to a Davis shot that bounced back off the crossbar to make it 3-1 Dynamo.
In the 81st. minute two chances came to Seattle as a loose ball in the box dribbled towards goal, but yet again it went against the Sounders, bouncing off the post and into the arms of Hall before Dempsey found space and shot agonizingly wide.
Seattle had plenty of possession late on and even brought on Eriq Zavaleta in an effort to find the two goals they needed, but they couldn’t dent the Houston net again.
The Sounders remain at 34 points (10-4-8 W-D-L) and sixth place in the Western Conference. They return home for a Cascadia Cup match against Portland next Sunday. Houston maintains fifth and playoff position in the East with 36 points (10-6-7). They play at Trinidad and Tobago’s W Connection in the CONCACAF Champions League Tuesday before resuming MLS play at Montreal Saturday.
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Patrick Ianni, Djimi Traore (Zach Scott 82), Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Brad Evans 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Marc Burch (Eriq Zavaleta 85), Lamar Neagle, Clint Dempsey.
Substitutes Not Used: Subs: Marcus Hahnemann, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Servando Carrasco, Dylan Remick.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (2 players, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Dempsey, 2); FOULS: 10 (4 players, 2); OFFSIDE: 2 (2 players, 1); CORNER KICKS: 9 (2 players, 3); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning, 1).
Houston Dynamo – Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe, Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat, Ricardo Clark (Warren Creavalle 39), Brad Davis (Andrew Driver 82), Will Bruin, Giles Barnes (Cam Weaver 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Erich Marscheider, Eric Brunner, Brian Ching, Alexander Lopez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Bruin, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Barnes, 2); FOULS: 10 (Garcia, 3); OFFSIDE: 5 (Barnes, 3); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Davis, 3); SAVES: 2 (Hall, 2).
SEA – Leo Gonzalez (caution) 43′
HOU – Boniek Garcia (caution) 83′
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Peter Balciunas, Kevin Klinger
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 88-degrees