SEATTLE -- July 11 will be a very memorable day for the Sounders FC coaching staff. For head coach Sigi Schmid and assistant coach Kurt Schmid, it will mark the date of Kurt’s wedding.
For assistant coach Brian Schmetzer, it will mark the date of his first MLS coaching victory, a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo in front of 32,404 in attendance at Qwest Field. Filling in for head coach Sigi Schmid, who was in California for his son’s wedding, Schmetzer led the Sounders from a one-goal deficit to defeat the top team in the MLS standings.
“That’s the second reason why I feel pretty good. It was my first MLS head coaching victory,” said Schmetzer, who coached the Sounders in the USL from 2002-2008. “To be down 1-0 to the top team in the league and to come back and show character certainly made it more special.”
Seattle got a first half equalizer from Fredy Montero and a crowd-pleasing bicycle kick to start the second half from Patrick Ianni for the game-winner. Although Houston outshot Seattle 10-8, Kasey Keller only required two saves to earn the victory.
The two teams traded control of the run of play for much of the first half, but it was the Dynamo who struck first, as Brad Davis tallied his third goal of the year on a left-footed strike from the top of the penalty box.
Dominic Oduro got the ball in deep on the right side of the box, turned it back to Brian Mullan for a ball to Davis at the top of the box. Davis turned toward the middle and blasted the shot by Keller for the 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.
Seattle came back in the 31st minute, as Nate Jaqua led a ball to Montero, who gathered the ball, hesitated, and knocked it over a diving Pat Onstad. Houston defender Mike Chabala tried to knock the ball off the line, but the linesman signaled a goal to knot it up at 1-1.
“Nate controlled the ball and I had time to indicate where I wanted it,” Montero said through a translator. “With great mastery, he found the spot. I had to chest it down and everything was very quick. Everything was very quick and when it was in I was just running to celebrate.”
It was Montero’s team-leading ninth goal of the year and Jaqua’s team-high sixth assist.
The game went into the half even at 1-1, but Seattle jumped on top of the Dynamo to start the second half.
The Sounders took the opening kick down the field and earned a corner kick. Freddie Ljungberg swung the ball into the area and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado knocked it toward the near post with a header. Ianni fielded the ball at the post, shielded Onstad with his body and spun in a bicycle kick for the go-ahead score.
With his back still to the net after the ball found the far corner, Ianni didn’t even know he scored until Montero grabbed him and yelled at him, “Goal!”
“I didn’t hear any reaction, but Fredy Montero shook me a little bit like I had fallen asleep. I had to look in the goal to make sure he wasn’t joking with me,” said Ianni, who was defending when Houston scored in the first half. “Every time we had a corner I was thinking that I need to get one back for my team. It’s definitely in the back of your head and you only have 90 minutes to do it.”
To Schmetzer, the unlikely goal came from quite an unlikely source.
“Very rare, especially for Pat Ianni,” Schmetzer said of bicycle kick goals. “If you were to tell me before the game that we would’ve won the game on a bicycle kick and had me pick one of our guys that was actually going to score the bicycle kick, Pat would have been number nine.”
The Sounders held on for the remainder of the half to earn the 2-1 win and improve to 7-3-7 on the season, jumping into second place in the Western Conference, just three points behind the Dynamo at 9-4-4.
“I think the whole second half was a better attitude. We were a little sloppy to start the game and we paid the price for it. We caught them sleeping at the beginning of the second half,” Keller said. “It’s the first time we’ve won where we went a goal down. It’s a good milestone for this team and one that’s going to prove us well as the season goes on and into the playoffs.”
For Schmetzer, the game was a real mark of pride. A Seattle native, Schmetzer played for the Sounders in the North American Soccer League from 1980-1983, then in the A-League in 1994. After coaching the team for seven years and earning 100 regular season wins in the process, Schmetzer was named Schmid’s top assistant, linking him to all adaptations of the Sounders franchise.
“I certainly am proud and happy to be sitting here with a smile on my face. But we know that we have a lot of work cut out for us,” Schmetzer said. “Hopefully Kurt said ‘I do.’ Hopefully the wedding went ok.”
The Sounders face English Premiership club Chelsea in a friendly July 18 at Qwest Field before facing the Dynamo again July 21 in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at Starfire.