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).