HOUSTON - Seattle Sounders FC saw its club record nine-game unbeaten streak end as the Houston Dynamo edged Sounders FC, 3-1, at Robertson Stadium on a hot Saturday evening.
Alvaro Fernandez converted a first-half penalty for Sounders FC but Brian Ching netted a brace and Colin Clark added a goal and an assist for the Dynamo.
Sounders FC (10-5-8, 38 points) lost for the first time since May 25 and remains third in the Western Conference.
Houston (6-7-9, 27 points) improves to 6-3-3 at home and leads the all-time MLS series at 3-2-3.
An eventful first-half featured three of the game's goals as well as three key saves by Kasey Keller.
Sounders FC allowed a pair of early goals as Houston quickly built a 2-0 lead. Clark struck in the 7th minute when Ching chested down a Geoff Cameron cross and Clark put the ball past Keller.
Houston doubled its lead in the 23rd minute after Brad Davis and Cameron combined on the flank. Cameron served a cross into the box that Ching headed into the back of the net.
Sounders FC pulled a goal back after Fernandez converted a penalty kick in the 36th minute. Osvaldo Alonso regained possession just outside the box and sent a cross to Roger Levesque at the back post. Levesque headed the ball back in front of goal where Fredy Montero was fouled by Dynamo defender Corey Ashe.
Fernandez is now the team's co-leader with six goals and Seattle has converted four of five penalty attempts this season.
Keller kept the game close with back-to-back saves in the 33rd minute. Ching turned and fired a shot from inside the box that Keller blocked followed by Adam Moffat's long-range follow-up attempt that Keller dived to grab.
Keller also denied Moffat in the 39th minute when he tipped his long-range attempt over the crossbar.
Houston extended the lead to 3-1 in the 71st minute as Ching netted his second goal of the match. Clark served a cross in front of goal that the unmarked Ching knocked into the back of the net.
Keller made another crucial stop coming out of halftime after Cameron slipped behind the defense and fired a shot from 6-yards in the 49th minute.
Erik Friberg's late attempt in second-half stoppage time hit the post before it was cleared by the Dynamo defense.
Seattle is now 4-4-2 away and saw its six-game road unbeaten streak end. Sounders FC had previously won five out of the last six league contests.
Rookie goalkeeper Josh Ford made the 18-man gameday roster for the first time in MLS play. Terry Boss stayed home due to injury.
Seattle will play twice again next week, first hosting Panama's San Francisco FC in the second deciding leg of the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary series on Wednesday, August 3 at 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Major League Soccer play continues on August 6 as Sounders FC visits Sporting Kansas City.
By MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
HOUSTON - The Sounders FC arrived in Houston amidst warnings for Hurricane Don.
While Don came and went, Hurricane Ching left a path of destruction in his wake. Brian Ching scored two goals and was the difference maker as the Sounders fell 3-1 to the Dynamo, putting an end to their nine-game unbeaten streak in MLS play.
“If you put Brian Ching on our team, I think maybe we win tonight,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think one player who is an influential player, who is a leader like that, can make a difference in games like this.”
Alvaro Fernandez scored his sixth goal of the season on a penalty and Kasey Keller finished the night with six saves, but Ching had a brace and Colin Clark added another and the Sounders remained winless at Houston’s Robertson Stadium in four matches since 2009.
The Sounders fell behind early when Geoff Cameron crossed the ball into the box, where Ching chested it down for Clark and he knocked it past Keller and the Sounders found themselves trailing 1-0 in the 7th minute.
Ching then headed in a cross from Cameron in the 23rd minute and Seattle fell behind 2-0. However, the Sounders came from behind in four matches in their nine-game unbeaten run and never lost confidence. They even appeared like they would turn the corner before the halftime whistle.
Keller dove to his left to stop a thundering shot from Ching, then dove to his right to save another shot from distance by Adam Moffat to keep the game close in the 33rd minute.
Fredy Montero made those saves count in the 36th minute when he fought his way into the box, then was clipped down by Houston All-Star defender Corey Ashe to earn a penalty.
Fernandez converted the penalty, knocking it low and to Tally Hall’s right while Hall dove left and Seattle brought it back to 2-1.
“I felt like that was the start of trying to turn the corner,” Keller said. “They have been shooting themselves in the foot. But they dominated from the first minute to the last minute and there was no chance of us really getting back into the game.”
That score held until the 71st minute when Ching completed his brace.
Just before the play, Patrick Ianni and Osvaldo Alonso blocked two Houston shots, but the rebound of the second came to Hunter Freeman, who played Clark up the right side of the box. Clark then clipped a cross to Ching at the far post for an uncontested look.
“I think we’ve been a little bit shaky defensively for a few weeks now and we just finally got to a point where we couldn’t outscore the opponent,” Keller said. “We’ve got to clean that up in of our game and we’ve been talking about it for the last several weeks and today we got punished because of it.”
With the loss, the Sounders fall to 10-5-8 (38 points), while Houston improved to 6-7-9 (27 points). It was Seattle’s first defeat since they fell 1-0 to FC Dallas on May 25. They will look to get back to those winning ways that saw them go 6-0-3 over nine matches against Sporting Kansas City in Seattle’s first match at brand new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park next Saturday.
First, though, they will play the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round match against San Francisco FC at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday. Seattle trails the aggregate-goal series after falling 1-0 in Panama on Tuesday.
Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (PK) 37.
Dynamo - Colin Clark 7; Brian Ching (Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis) 23; Brian Ching (Colin Clark, Hunter Freeman) 71.
Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (caution) 38; Mike Fucito (caution) 87.
Dynamo - Cam Weaver (caution) 34; Brad Davis (caution) 76.
Sounders FC - 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).
Dynamo - Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Alex Dixon 90), Geoff Cameron, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Jason Garey 87), Will Bruin (Cam Weaver 31).