2009 Nov 8

Houston Blank Seattle and advance with extra time goal

Playoffs, Round 1, Leg 2:
Houston Dynamo  1 - 0  Seattle Sounders FC (after extra time)

Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX

95' HOU: Brian Ching (Brian Mullan)

Houston: Pat Onstad; Mike Chabala, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Andrew Hainault; Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 98'), Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Brian Mullan; Dominic Oduro (Luis Angel Landin 81'), Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 96'). Substitutes not used: Tally Hall, Ryan Cochrane, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Tyrone Marshall (Sanna Nyassi 104'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley (sent off 119'); Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 67'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Nate Jaqua; Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero (Sebastien Le Toux 91'). Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl, Peter Vagenas.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

It took extra time after another 90 minutes of nil-nil soccer to produce a winner in this series, and Houston's Brian Ching came up with the series winner.

The Houston Dynamo advance to the semifinals, while the Sounders end an outstanding first season in MLS that exceeded all early expectations, yet fell short of good possibilities at the end when they failed to score in 3.5 hours of playoff soccer. The chances were there, but the finishing was not.

First Half

Houston had an early chance when Dominic Oduro's cross was not cleared, and Ching tried a bicycle chip over Keller. James Riley was covering the goal mouth and cleared the shot.

After sending too many passes too long, Seattle's first chance came from the first corner kickand Tyrone Marshall headed it two yards over the bar.

Houston came close again at a quarter hour when Oduro flicked a ball on goal. Keller saved it, but gave up a rebound to Oduro, then Keller smothered the put-back by Oduro.

For Seattle, Steve Zakuani was sent free on the left by Freddie Ljungberg and earned a cross, but failed to put it within reach of Fredy Montero.

Midway in the half was Houston's best chance in the first 90 minutes, when Riley backed off Oduro to pick up a runner. Oduro slammed a hard shot squarely off the near post.

At 27' Seattle's Montero had his first look at goal after touching the ball past his marker nicely, but he shot wide of the near post, same as he would do with his later chances.

On the half hour mark Oduro had another great chance when he was in on goal from the right, but from a steep angle he shot just wide of the far post.

The closest Seattle came all match was at 37' when Zakuani got in again for a cross, and Geoff Cameron nearly kicked it into his own goal, and Pat Onstad had to make a reaction save to prevent the goal.

Seattle came close at 42' when Nate Jaqua's shot from a Ljungberg free kick was headed to the bar by defender Ricardo Clark, where Onstad batted it down. Montero got a foot on the leftovers, and Onstad again batted it away.

Second Half

Seattle had the first good opportunity of the second half at 53' when a nice build-up led to a Ljungberg cross that Jaqua shot wide of the far post.

Then for Houston Oduro got a shot after a good build-up, but fires it right at Kasey Keller.

Montero's next chance came at 57' when his shot at the near post was saved by Onstad. At 66' Riley fed Montero on the right for another try at the near post and Onstad pushed it wide. The resulting corner kick was cleared and shot back in by Leo Gonzalez, but 2 yards high.

At 69' Montero was again in for a shot but he missed the near post again.

Houston had a good chance at 70' when a poor clearance gave Ching a low shot to the near post, but Keller made a great save.

At 81' Jaqua was fed by Montero for a good chance, but Cameron got there to barely deflect it wide, and he came up limping after the play.

The final 20 minutes of regulation saw a tired Seattle team earn no chances and give up a couple of half chances to Houston, but no shots came close.

Extra Time

95' Houston: Ching (Mullan). Mike Chabala's cross was knocked back towards goal by Brian Mullan, and Ching turned on the ball and hit the top far corner with his shot.

Seattle's best chance to tie it up came on Ljungberg's shot to the bar, which Onstad managed to tip over for a corner. On the corner, Brad Evans shot wide of the near post.

With a minute to go, Seattle defender Riley was sent off for a cleats-first challenge that got there a bit late.

          HOU  SEA
Shots:     17   12
Saves:      3    4
Corners:    4    6
Fouls:     16   16
Offsides:   4    0

24' SEA: Marshall cautioned for a tactical foul near his penalty area
44' HOU: Chabala cautioned for persistent infringement
90' HOU: Cameron cautioned for a tactical foul on Montero
119' SEA: Riley sent off for a late, cleats-first challenge
120' SEA: Ljungberg cautioned for dissent

Referees: Jorge Gonzalez; Nate Clement, Anthony Vasoli; Mark Geiger

Attendance: 27,465

Postmatch Quotes

Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid

On the game: "It was a hard-fought game. It was a physical game. They had some good chances. They created some good things, and we dodged some bullets. I thought we had some good chances as well and missed them. At the end, a little bit of a mistake in the back, and Brian Ching buried a good goal. There's not much that separates these two teams."

On Ching's goal: "Roger's just got to flick the ball on. The ball's bouncing, and instead of flicking it on and heading it over Mullan, he ends up turning and he hits the ball into Mullan, and he sort of blocks it, and it falls to Ching, and he hits a good first-time shot."

On the possession battle: "I don't think we played particularly well this game. Houston did a good job of winning the duels in the middle of the midfield. Any one-on-one headers, they won the majority of that. Those are like face-offs in hockey, so they got more possession all the time and that hurt us a little bit. We were probably a little too direct at the beginning of the game, and once we settled and played a little bit more, I thought we played a little bit better. I thought it was going to head to penalties the way it was going, but obviously it didn't."

On the break between games: "I thought it was too long in between games, personally. They were maybe a little more banged up than we were, so it helped them get healthier, but it is what it is, so we just have to deal with it."

Sounders FC Goalkeeper Kasey Keller

On the game: "It was a tough game. Not an easy surface to play on, so it didn't account for a real pretty game. Everybody was just waiting for that one mistake or that one piece of magic, and it came from Brian. It was a tremendous finish, and we just couldn't get it in at the other end. We knocked on the door a few times, but we just couldn't quite sustain enough pressure. Overall, it could've gone either way. It didn't go our way, and it's always tough, and the playoffs are the playoffs."

On Seattle's inaugural season: "We're pretty happy. It's not real easy right now, because we felt we could've won the whole thing. But at the same time, we won the Open Cup, we attributed ourselves really well. The city was phenomenally behind us, and now we have to take the pill of not winning this tie and go out and spend the offseason thinking how we're going to make it better."

On elimination: "You lose in the playoffs and there's no tomorrow, and unfortunately there's no tomorrow for us. But all credit to Houston, they kept battling, and Brian scored one of the best goals he's ever scored... It bounced kindly for him, Brian turned inside of it and put it right in the upper corner. You couldn't have asked for a better place for it. You've got to give Brian a ton of credit. It was a fantastic finish and a goal worthy of winning any game."

Dynamo Midfielder Stuart Holden

On winning the playoff series: "We did the Houston magic tonight, and that's what we got them on. Great effort."

On the mentality of the team coming into the match: "To be honest, I think this group and the mentality was that we were the only team that was going to win. They had a couple of chances on counter attacks and maybe set pieces. Other than that, I was confident that even if they scored, that we would have the chance to get one back as we've done previously in other playoff games. That's the mentality of this team: We are never going to give up, and we knew it was going to take something special tonight. Brian came up with that for us."

On the defensive effort: "Pat Onstad made a huge save in the first half off of Geoff Cameron, and made another great save off a chip from Freddie Ljungberg. He kept us in it all night. Geoff and Bobby were great in the middle winning a lot of aerial battles against Nate. Mike and Andrew did a good job getting forward and defending and helping out the attack. I think 1 to 14, including subs, you couldn't pick a player that had a bad night tonight."

Dynamo Midfielder Brad Davis

On Houston's performance: "If we keep playing with the same mentality and the same desire, I definitely think we can raise that cup in the next couple of weeks."

On who they will face in the Western Conference final: "It doesn't really matter right now to us. If we play Chivas, we are at home, which would be great. If not, we play against LA, and both will be tough match-ups. We will take a couple of days and enjoy it, and we will start preparing for them next week."

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