Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo, Fulltime: Steve Zakuani's 80th Minute Goal Salvages Tie

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Dominance Does Not Spell Victory, But At Least It's A Point

Almost no matter how you look at Friday's match, the Seattle Sounders were the better team. They fired off a team record 26 shots, forced Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall into seven saves and conceded just six shots, only two of which were on goal. They had 12 corner kicks (tying a team record) to the Dynamo's one. No official possession stats were available, but it's not hard to imagining the Sounders holding a sizable advantage there as well. But in the only area where it really matters, the Sounders and Dynamo were dead even. The 1-1 tie may not be indicative of which team played better, but it does tell the story of the Sounders' season to this point.

In fact, if not for Steve Zakuani's opportunistic score in the 80th minute, the Sounders would have walked away from their third straight game without a point. Zakuani's goal, which he scored when a corner kick practically fell at his feet as he stood next to the goal post, allowed the Sounders to escape with at least some of their dignity intact.

Up until Zakuani's score, the game had been filled with frustration as the Sounders were foiled by a combination of impressive goalkeeping, bad luck and missed opportunities. The Sounders' night was effectively encapsulated by a two-minute sequence around the 29th minute. It started with a free kick by Osvaldo Alonso, which was blocked and came out to O'Brian White, whose close-range shot was also blocked. That led to a corner kick, which came out to White, who was again stopped. The rebound came out to Jeff Parke, whose shot went off the crossbar.

The Dynamo, meanwhile, did the most with their few chances. Their goal came in the 42nd minute when Lovel Palmer's free kick from about 30 yards out hit off the crossbar, found its way through several players and ended up at the feet of Geoff Cameron, who fired a shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal. Other than a shot in the 11th minute, it was the only time the Dynamo were able to put a shot on target. That sent the Dynamo into halftime with a 1-0 lead, despite being out shot 15-5.

The Sounders now turn their attention to their April 2 date at the San Jose Earthquakes. Last year, the Sounders managed a 1-0 victory in San Jose despite not playing particularly well. There's no question they'd gladly accept a similar result.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Utter Domination Only Results In One Point For Sounders

Rarely will you see a MLS dominate another team as thoroughly as the Seattle Sounders did the Houston Dynamo on Friday night at Qwest Field. Even more rarely, will you see the team that dominated feel relieved to come away with a point. Yet, the Sounders must feel at least somewhat that way after needing a Steve Zakuani goal in the 80th minute to come out with a 1-1 tie.

The Sounders thoroughly outplayed and out-chanced the Dynamo, but had all kinds of trouble finishing any of those chances. Meanwhile, the Dynamo made their only real chance count when Geoff Cameron scored in the 42nd minute.

Outside of Cameron's goal, which immediately followed a Brad Davis free kick that struck the crossbar, the Dynamo struggled to do much of anything against the Sounders. Seattle held the ball for much of the game, fired off more than 20 shots and were undone by a combination of impressive saves by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall and plain missed opportunities.

The result for the Sounders is their first point of the season, although it comes in easily their best game. Despite regular starters James Riley, Alvaro Fernandez and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado all being held out for a variety of reason, the Sounders had the better of the play throughout the contest.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Steve Zakuani Equalizes For Sounders

After openly wondering whether Qwest Field might be built on an Indian burial ground, Steve Zakuani sent the Seattle Sounders faithful into a fullblown frenzy when his goal in the 80th minute equalized. Zakuani was given a golden opportunity as the ball came free at the far post and, unlike the Sounders had been doing all evening, did not blow it.

Within a minute of that goal, Fredy Montero nearly put the Sounders ahead when he hit a half-volley from about 15 yards out. But, as he has much of the game, Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was able to make a diving save.

Prior to Zakuani's goal, the Sounders' night had been filled with frustration. Around the 70th minute, Leo Gonzalez appeared to be fouled inside the penalty area. But rather than earning a penalty, referee Ramon Hernandez showed Gonzalez a yellow card for diving. Replays clearly showed that the defender made contact with Gonzalez while making a slide tackle.

A couple minutes later,  Montero came streaking down the the right wing and fired a shot on goal. Tally Hall made the save, but left a rebound and an open goal on the opposite side. Erik Friberg, though, could not get a touch on the ball and it slid harmlessly away.

Zakuani nearly got a look at an open goal in the 79th minute, but Dynamo defender Kofi Sarkodie made a nice tackle to get the ball to safety. Zakuani ultimately scored on a play that started with the ensuring corner kick.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Nate Jaqua Makes His 2011 Debut

Needing to find a goal in the worst way, the Seattle Sounders have turned to Nate Jaqua in the 62nd minute of their match against the Houston Dynamo. The Sounders trail 1-0 in the 70th minute. Jaqua, who has not yet played this season after undergoing offseason surgery, was brought on for O'Brian White, who had missed several first-half opportunities.

Jaqua scored nine goals for the Sounders during his first season with the team, but injuries and the addition of Blaise Nkufo limited him to two MLS starts in 2010. Jaqua was mostly reduced to being a late-game substitute and playing in competitions like the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League. He had two assists in 434 MLS minutes last year. Jaquad did score six goals, five of them in Open Cup where he was named the Player of the Tournament.

This past offseason, Jaqua was one of 11 players the Sounders protected in the expansion draft.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo, Halftime: Not Sure What Sounders Need To Do

The last five minutes of the first half against the Houston Dynamo pretty well summed up the Seattle Sounders' season through 450 minutes. Despite absolutely dominating in every phase of the game, the Sounders conceded what has so far been the game's only goal in the 42nd minute on a shot from Geoff Cameron that ricocheted off the inside of the cross bar.

The Sounders have outshot the Dynamo 15-5, but have been somewhat undone by the fact that just four of their shots have been on target. When their shots have been on goal, Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall has so far been up to the task, parrying balls away with relative ease.

The Dynamo have managed to catch most of the game's breaks, getting somewhat lucky in the third minute when Hunter Freeman tugged at Erik Friberg's jersey and was shown only yellow despite being the last man back. They've also benefited from the Sounders wasting several of their best chances by failing to put shots on target.

Their goal, though, was a product of their good work. Brad Davis' free kick from about 28 yards out hit the crossbar and Cameron was alertly there to clean it up.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Of Course Dynamo Score First

After an entire half of being dominated, the Houston Dynamo have taken the early 1-0 lead on a goal by Geoff Cameron in the 42nd minute, a lead they took into hafltime. The goal came during a sequence that started with a Brad Davis free kick, which he struck off the crossbar. The ball came back out to Geoff Cameron, who struck another shot off the crossbar, but his attempt ricocheted just inside the goal line.

Up until that point, the Sounders had created no fewer than eight quality scoring chances, with the most recent coming in the 35th minute when Steve Zakuani had a 1v1 with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. Zakuani's attempt from about 10 yards out on the left side was directly at Hall, who easily made the save.

It was perhaps the easiest save Hall had made on the night, who has spent much of the evening pulling his Dynamo teammates out of the fire with saves from all sorts of angles.

Just to add insult to injury, the half ended with the Sounders getting a couple of golden opportunities inside the Dynamo penalty area. But O'Brian White's shot was stopped by a Dynamo defender and Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani were unable to get shots off just before the whistle blew.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: The Chances Are Coming, The Goals Aren't

In a roughly five-minute span, the Seattle Sounders had at least three golden opportunities to score their first goal of the season. In each instance, they were foiled by good defending, bad luck and poor shooting as the score with the Houston Dynamo remains 0-0 about 35 minutes through the first half.

The sequence started when Erik Friberg sent in a cross from the right side that found the head of O'Brian White in the 26th minute. But White's attempt was stopped by Tally Hall, who made a purely reflexive save of the shot.

A couple minutes later, the Sounders were given an opportunity to fire off three shots from inside the penalty area. The first shot reflected off a Dynamo defender, the next shot hit off the cross bar and a final attempt sailed high.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: No Shortage Of Chances For Rave Green

Through 22 minutes, the Seattle Sounders have been controlling their match with the Houston Dynamo. In addition to Erik Friberg's chance in the 4th minute, the Sounders have had several other dangerous chances. Unfortunately, that's basically been the case all season.

In the 8th minute, O'Brian White was able to fight off two Houston defenders to control a ball at the edge of the six-yard box but was unable to get much on his shot that ended up being stopped by goalkeeper Tally Hall. A few minutes later, Brad Evans got a clean look from just outside the penalty area, but his shot sailed high and wide. In the 14th minute, Steve Zakuani collected a ball just inside the penalty area and nearly caught Hall off his line, but his shot also sailed high.

The best chance, though, came in the 21st minute when Fredy Montero collected a free ball just outside the six-yard box. His attempt through several defender was high of the bar.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo: Hunter Freeman Lucky To Not See Red

It took just three minutes for referee Ramon Hernandez to put his stamp on this game. Erik Friberg was free on a ball over the defense and had a clear shot at the goal when Hunter Freeman clearly tugged him back. With no defenders between Friberg and the goal, it seemed to be a clear red card violation. Instead Hernandez pulled out a yellow card and awarded the Sounders no more than a free kick from just outside the penalty area.

On the ensuing free kick, Fredy Montero tried to curl a ball over the wall and into the near corner of the goal, but a Dynamo defender was able to head it away. The Dynamo were ultimately able to weather the ensuing attack.

The yellow card was in stark contrast to the red card FC Dallas' Brek Shea was shown in last week's game. In that instance, Shea was one-on-one with a Chicago Fire player at about midfield and was shown red for essentially clashing shoulders. It is this kind of inconsistency that MLS Commissioner Don Garber said he was trying to eliminate from league officials.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo, Starting Lineups: James Riley Out, Alvaro Fernandez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado On Bench

Despite high hopes that the Seattle Sounders would at least be close to full strength for Friday's match against the Houston Dynamo, it looks like they'll be short-handed after all. James Riley apparently suffered a mild concussion during training on Thursday and is not in 18, while Alvaro Fernandez and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado are in the 18, but not starting. The reason for Fernandez's and Hurtado's absences are, presumably, coach's decisions.

In their places are Zach Scott, Brad Evans, and Patrick Ianni, all of whom are making their season debuts. Steve Zakuani will also make his return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's match against the New York Red Bulls. Nate Jaqua is in the 18 for the first time this year.

On the Dynamo's side, rookie Kofi Sarkodie will receive his first start of the season at right back. Otherwise, the Dynamo lineup is pretty much the same as it was against the Philadephia Union during their first match.

Dynamo starters: Tally Hall, Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Hunter Freeman, Corey Ashe, Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Will Bruin, Jason Garey. Bench: Tyler Deric, Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Brian Ching, Danny Cruz, Alex Dixon, Cam Weaver.

Sounders starters: Kasey Keller, Scott, Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, O'Brian White, Fredy Montero. Bench: Terry Boss, Servando Carrasco, Fernandez, Hurtado, Nate Jaqua, Mauro Rosales, Tyson Wahl.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Houston Dynamo, Preview: Will Either Team Find The Net?

Is it just me or has it seemed as though the Seattle Sounders have barely been given a chance to breathe this season? Just two weeks into MLS and the team has already played two matches (we're not going to discuss those scorelines) and are now set to play on Friday, meaning they'll have completed three games while most others have played just one. Although on the list of things to complain about this season, the timing of the Sounders' match against Houston Dynamo ranks fairly low on the list.

Atop everyone's list? The lack of goals, of course. In addition to rarely scoring in preseason play, the Sounders have made it through two regular season games without putting a ball in the back of the net -- at least, not one that counted. Although the squad had started to look threatening against New York Red Bulls, Sigi Schmid made the curious choice of removing Alvaro Fernandez and replacing him with new Sounder Mauro Rosales. Fernandez had looked a little shaky in the first fifteen minutes, but by the time he was pulled, he and Fredy Montero had been combining fantastically up the right flank, and were looking dead-set on scoring. Instead it was Juan Agudelo that scored for New York, just two minutes after El Flaco left the pitch.

To be fair, Fernandez exiting the field had little to do with the goal, although it did make it more unlikely that Seattle would find an equalizer. The true problem, as almost anyone watching the Sounders will have realized, is a lack of finishing ability and a distinct absence of luck. O'Brian White has been depressing to watch, flubbing absolute sitters and looking uncertain whenever he has the ball. Montero, on the other hand, has seen many of his shots saved by talented opposition keepers, and at some point you'd think someone's going to make a mistake. Although Nate Jaqua has been back in training, it's likely he'll be limited to a bench role against the Dynamo, and with Sigi's insistence on two forwards, that almost certainly means White will start.

Fortunately for Seattle, the Dynamo have yet to score a goal this season either, although they've had just 90 minutes to try and find the net. They were also without Brian Ching in the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union, but the offensive threat returns to the lineup against the Sounders. The Dynamo will also be missing defender Jermaine Taylor due to MLS's insistence on not observing international breaks (no Sounders were called away, not that this is really surprising). Houston did manage to control the majority of the possession against the Union, and if they add to that Ching's ability to score goals, well, tonight may not be a fun one at Qwest Field.

For plenty more indepth information, check out SB Nation's Houston blog, Dynamo Theory, and SB Nation's Seattle blog, Sounder at Heart.

Hate to break your little hearts, but there will be no live coverage of this match, as I'm applying my investigative journalism skills to determine whether GA is as cool this year as it was last season. Instead, get yourself a ticket -- there are still some available -- and make sure to stop by Elysian Fields prior to the game, as Sounder at Heart is hosting a fun little pre-match get-together (drinks are on you, though).

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