2011 Jul 30

Houston too hot for the Sounders

Houston Dynamo  3 - 1  Seattle Sounders FC
Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX

7' HOU: Colin Clark
23' HOU: Brian Ching (Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis)
37' SEA: Alvaro Fernandez (PK)
70' HOU: Brian Ching (Colin Clark, Hunter Freeman)

Houston: Tally Hall; Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe; Colin Clark (Alex Dixon 89'), Geoff Cameron, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis; Brian Ching (Jason Garey 87'), Will Bruin (Cam Weaver 31').
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Mike Fucito 78'); Fredy Montero (Pat Noonan 67'), Roger Levesque (Nate Jaqua 57').
Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Leo Gonzalez, Zach Scott, Servando Carrasco.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC just didn't have their mojo in the Houston heat, giving up two early goals to the Dynamo's Colin Clark and Brian Ching and never looking like they might claim a point. The Sounders pulled within one on Alvaro Fernandez' penalty kick late in the first half, but never looked like they would get another until after Ching netted his second of the match.

In just the third minute Seattle had a golden chance when a quick throw-in to Roger Levesque caught the Houston defense off guard. Levesque sent a square cross to the wide open Fernandez for an unpressured shot from the arc, but he leaned back and sent it two yards over the bar.

7' HOU: Clark. Geoff Cameron's throw-in from the left flag was played back to him by Will Bruin, then Cameron curled in a nice cross that went over Osvaldo Alonso's head and was chested down in front of goal by Ching. Tyson Wahl charged Ching off the ball, but Clark was there unmarked to fire it in. Keller nearly made a reaction save, but the ball powered through. 1-0 Houston. Ching and Cameron deserved assists on the play, but the scorekeeper didn't credit them.

23' HOU: Ching (Cameron, Davis). At the top left corner of the penalty area, Brad Davis left the ball for Cameron, who served an air ball to the center of the 6-yard line. Patrick Ianni missed the ball in the air, and Ching was free to head it into the lower near corner, beating Keller's dive. 2-0 Houston on just their second shot.

A half hour in, Bruin limped off with a left knee injury and Cam Weaver took his place. Keller came up with a big double save at 33' to keep Seattle in the match. Ching fought his way loose for a ten yard shot, blocked away by Keller with a dive, then before Keller could get back up he had to dive the other way to stop Adam Moffat's rocket up the middle.

37' SEA: Fernandez (PK). Alonso won the ball in the middle of Houston's half and carried it ahead to the left side of the penalty area, where he crossed to Levesque at the far post. Levesque headed a drop pass for Fredy Montero to fight for. Corey Ashe's challenge was too clumsy, and he ended up stumbling into Montero's legs with Montero going after the ball. Down went Montero, and referee Niko Bratsis was right there and pointed to the penalty spot, the first time he has awarded one in MLS. Fernandez took the kick, sending the ball to the left side while Tally Hall dove the other way. 2-1 Houston.

Two minutes later Keller had to save another well-struck rocket from Moffat, this time touching it over the bar. Then Ching had another close-in header from Hunter Freeman's cross, and James Riley did well to pressure Ching into heading it wide.

Sounders fans were hoping that Seattle would start the second half strong, but the momentum stayed with Houston. The first chance was for Cameron, who got away from his marker to win a ball sent over the defense, but from 15 yards he shot right to Keller. At 55' a Houston cross went through the crowd to Clark playing garbage collector, but he mishit his shot badly with only Keller to beat.

Seattle tried to inject some vitality into the attach by sending on Nate Jaqua for Levesque, then Pat Noonan for Montero.

70' HOU: Ching (Clark, Freeman). Freeman sent a nice through ball for Clark on the right side. Clark sent a square cross with velocity along the 6-yard line, and Ching was unmarked on the far-post run to finish it. 3-1 Houston.

Seattle's last substitution was Mike Fucito for Fernandez, but still Houston kept the momentum. At 83' Weaver was served in the left corner and earned a shot that Keller blocked wide at the near post. At 89' Clark fired a cleared corner kick back in and missed the lower far corner by just a foot. At 90' substitute Jason Garey was served on a run for his chance, but he missed wide of the near post.

The last of three minutes of added time saw Seattle's only real scoring threat in the match other than the PK. A successful attack gave Noonan a shot from just to the right of goal, and a defender cleared the ball off the line after Noonan beat Hall. The ball ended up back with Noonan, who sent a short cross to Erik Friberg a few yards from the near post, and his snap header hit the post squarely.

The loss was Seattle's first by more than one goal this season.

          HOU  SEA
Shots:     16    8
Saves:      2    5
Corners:    4    7
Fouls:     10    8
Offsides:   4    4

35' HOU: Weaver cautioned for chopping down Montero
38' SEA: Fernandez cautioned for failing to allow ten yards on a free kick
77' HOU: Davis cautioned for a late hit on Riley
87' SEA: Fucito cautioned for dissent

Referees: Niko Bratsis; Peter Manikowski, Anthony Vasoli; Hilario Grajeda

Attendance: 18,465

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the physicality of the game: "You can point to a packed schedule, but we aren't going to point to a packed schedule. The game was allowed to be played in a very physical nature, which suits them a little more than us because they are bigger than our team is and a little stronger. I think we were looking for fouls sometimes when we shouldn't have. I just think mentally we lost our concentration, and this is the type of game where if you put Brian Ching on our team, I think we win tonight. I think one player, who is an influential player, who is a leader like that, can make a difference in a game like this."

On the past few games" It just feels like a long stretch. I think right now their minds are a blank slate. I donít know what they are feeling. I think they are feeling tired and disappointed and embarrassed. We have to make sure we get together for our next game."

On the second half: "We felt we were in the game. We got the penalty kick to go 2-1, and I felt confident that we could get a goal. We gave up a bad third goal, but for sure, I thought they played better in the second half in terms of their possession and their ability to knock the ball around. I thought we gave possession away, but we still had a couple opportunities where we got in. Even at 3-1, I thought we had a couple opportunities to make it 3-2, just not enough. It was not good enough."

Tyson Wahl

On the game: "It's definitely frustrating to start the game the way we did, conceding two early goals. If we are going to be one of the top teams in the league, we have got to deal with the travel and all the extras. We are not going to make excuses; we expect more from ourselves. We expect to be able to travel for a week long and still be sharp, and we weren't. We are not going to make excuses, we are just going to push forward and get back on the right side of things."

On the second half: "I didn't feel like we were out of it; we just didn't have the energy today. I don't think we got our heads down, but we just didn't turn it around and bring our energy level back quick enough the way we normally do, which is something we need to work on."

On Houston's play: "They have a lot of big guys. Ching is great in the box, a lot of other guys are pretty effective in the box. They know how to play in this field. They put balls in the box, and that's how they are effective."

Kasey Keller

"I think we've been a little bit shaky defensively for a few weeks now. We finally got to a stage where we couldn't outscore the opponent. You give away too many of those kinds of chances from 6 yards out, you're going to lose some ball games. We've got to clean that up in our game. We've been talking about it for the last several weeks, and today we got punished because of it. It was a long trip, and you can make whatever excuse you want to make, but today Houston was better and deserved to win."

"(It's) just frustrating. I have no problem if someone bangs one under pressure from the top of the box into the upper corner and we lose the ball game. But when you lose their leading goal scorer a couple of times inside the 6 and he's wide open and he knocks the balls in, those are the concentration things that are frustrating, you know...Just giving them chance after chance after chance is just something that we really have to get out of our game in a hurry if we want to make a run, because right now it's just too easy for teams to score goals against us, and that's just not the way that we normally are. Something bad is creeping in, and we've got to knock it out in a hurry."

On if he felt the PK that cut it to 2-1 might have been a turning point: "I felt like it was the start of trying to turn the corner. They've had some of the same kind of defensive issues that we've had. I was talking to Dominic Kinnear before the game: I just don't know how that team it's only their sixth win because they have been shooting themselves in the foot. We thought maybe the penalty, now can we kick on here and see if we can make them shoot themselves in the foot again. But they dominated from the first minute to the last minute and there was no chance of us really getting back into the game."

On if the club missed Jhon Kennedy Hurtado against the big and direct Dynamo: "Sure, and Zakuani and O'Brian White. Every team is always going to look at this stage of the season and say this guy is out from yellow cards, and this guy's out from injuries and whatever Ė and it's how well the guys that are on the field can step up and get the job done. And thereís no reason why the guys that we have can't step up and do the job, and it just hasn't been happening. But it's nothing to freak out about. We've lost one game in 10, so it's nothing to click any panic stations. It's just that there have been signs of us being a little bit loose in the back over the last four or five games, and it's just something that we need to clean up if we want to do what we want to do and push into the playoffs."

Houston Dynamo

Dominic Kinnear - Head Coach

On the game: "I'm very happy for the guys. I told them afterwards I think it's the best we have played this year. Energy was good, enthusiasm was excellent, and we scored a couple good goals in the beginning of the game, which gave us some energy and some confidence. We had some scary moments there, but all and all, I thought we played very well tonight, and I'm happy for the guys."

On aggressive play: "I think it just was the team. We talked about they had a tough game with some tough travel earlier in the week, and I told the guys to just try to get off to a good start. They have some good players, a good team over there, some good attacking players, so we wanted to try to make sure they didn't get a lot of space to play to get into any type of rhythm. I thought we did a pretty good job of pressuring them and winning some second balls. I thought Brian Ching's movement tonight in the box was excellent. I thought the energy was good, and that was a key for us tonight."

Brian Ching

On the team's goals: "We came out hard, put a couple of goals in, and made it that much harder for them. All the goals came from great crosses. The first one goes right over Alonso, and I trap it, was about to shoot it, and the defender kind of bumps me, and Colin's Johnny-on-the-spot with a good finish. On the second goal, Geoff crosses a great ball that Pat Ianni misjudged, and it was a classic goal for me inside the six, how I like them. The last goal was an awesome hustle from Colin. He was up and down all night. He puts a great ball across, and it's one of the easier finishes Iíve had."

On the win: "Everybody came out with confidence, and I think we had fun, and that's part of it. When you're losing, it's hard to find the fun in the game at times, but tonight it looked like everybody was on top of things. Adam came in, his first start for us, and made a good contribution. For myself, I feel like I owe the team a little bit, so I wanted to make an impact. I was fortunate to get some great crosses in tonight and put the ball in the ball in the back of the net."

On the significance of the win: "We know it's crunch time. It's time to get some points at home. It's time to start moving up the charts if we want to be in the playoffs, and you know we all have pride and we all want to be in the playoffs. We don't want a repeat of last year. So I think we have to take it upon ourselves to come out and perform, and tonight is a good start. Let's not read too much into one game. You need to put three, four more like this together, get some more wins, before we start patting ourselves on the back.

Geoff Cameron

On the game: "It was a big three points for us. We knew they were playing well and they've got a pretty good team, and I think we showed well."

On the game plan: "They obviously are a good team, possession-wise. They have good combination play, they like that early through ball and getting guys to push up early, so we knew that if we intercepted the ball, we'd have to give a nice quick pass to release pressure and we were on our way. I think we did that tonight, and Dom did the scouting report, and Dom was right on, and the guys executed very well."

On Brian Chingís leadership: "It's kind of funny: We had breakfast this morning, and he said 'Man, I need to get a couple goals,' and I said, 'Don't worry, you'll get them,' and tonight he did. So it's great. It's good confidence for him and good confidence for the team; we have trust in him. Jason came in, Cam Weaver came in, and everybody did a great job producing. We are happy about the result. We are looking forward to Philadelphia next weekend."

Adam Moffat

On his first game in Houston: "Obviously, it was great to get the victory. I thought it was a great performance overall. We're disappointed with the penalty, and we're a little bit hard-done to only get three goals, but it's great and we had some other opportunities as well."