HOUSTON – In a fiercely contested rivalry that has been dominated by home teams, Saturday night’s match between Sounders FC and the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium lived up to the standard.
In Clint Dempsey’s Texas homecoming, a sellout crowd of 22,289 was on hand as the Dynamo got out to a 2-0 halftime lead. Seattle pulled one back, but couldn’t solve the Houston puzzle and fell 3-1, remaining winless on the road against the Dynamo in five all-time meetings.
“We were as much in the game as they were. It’s easily a game that could have been 3-3 or 4-4 based on the chances we had,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought we fought and we battled all the way through the end. I don’t think we gave up. Even through injury time, we were looking for goals.”
In the 16th minute, Seattle had its first clear chance when Lamar Neagle carried the ball into the box just right of center, but put his shot just wide of the far post.
In the 17th minute, Houston got on the board as Will Bruin got into the box up the left side. He couldn’t get a shot away, but pulled Michael Gspurning off his line and spilled the ball back to Barnes in the middle of the box, where he put away a shot into the open net for a 1-0 Houston lead.
Barnes doubled the lead in the 21st minute, as Seattle lost possession in midfield and Houston quickly took advantage. Brad Davis rolled the ball to Barnes and he turned and unloaded a rocket from 30 yards out that beat Gspurning high for his sixth goal of the season and a 2-0 Houston advantage.
Seattle had a chance to pull one back in the 36th minute when they got out on the run. Neagle raced up the left side with Dempsey and Mauro Rosales going into the box. His cross found Rosales unmarked at the far post, but his header back across the goal missed wide of the far post.
That score would hold into the second half, although Seattle was only outshot 9-7 with Dempsey forcing Tally Hall into two saves.
Sounders FC would continue to exert pressure in the early stages of the second half and would finally pull one back in the 65th minute.
While pressuring up the right side, DeAndre Yedlin was brought down for a foul 12 yards out against the sideline. Marc Burch swung the free kick into the box and Shalrie Joseph nodded it down, bouncing it high and into the net for his first Sounders FC goal, pulling the score to 2-1.
“We were knocking on the door earlier, even in the first half,” Joseph said. “When that one came, it was just a matter of trying to get the second one. When we started pushing forward we left ourselves a little too exposed.”
By the 74th minute, Seattle had outshot Houston 8-3 in the second half and the scales looked tilted in their favor.
However, at that point Warren Creavalle got to a header in the box but it caromed off the crossbar, taking a high bounce before Davis got a piece of it, tipping it to Bruin for a side-winding shot that found the net for a 3-1 lead.
That didn’t deter the Seattle attack though.
Despite playing down a man while Djimi Traore had been taken off the field and they awaited to insert Zach Scott, Sounders FC got two shots that very nearly found the net in the 81st minute. Frist Brad Evans ran up the right side and crossed a ball toward the middle where Neagle got ahead of it and attempted to flick it on, but his shot hit the post.
Moments later, Dempsey hit a left-footed shot from the top of the box, missing just outside the far post.
Though they continued to battle, Seattle was unable to narrow the deficit and fell to 10-8-4 on the season.
“We had enough chances tonight that we should have scored more goals,” Dempsey said. “We created chances, though, so I’m not frustrated with that aspect.”
Sounders FC will return home to host the Portland Timbers on Sunday, August 26, where a crowd of over 66,500 is expected.
Sounders FC – Shalrie Joseph (Marc Burch) 65.
Dynamo – Giles Barnes (Will Bruin) 17; Giles Barnes (Brad Davis) 21; Will Bruin (Brad Davis) 74.
Sounders FC – Leo Gonzalez (caution) 43.
Toronto FC – Boniek Garcia (caution) 83.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Patrick Ianni, Djimi Traore (Zach Scott 82), Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Brad Evans 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Marc Burch (Eriq Zavaleta 85), Lamar Neagle, Clint Dempsey.
Dynamo – Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe, Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark (Warren Creavalle 39), Adam Moffat, Brad Davis (Andrew Driver 82), Will Bruin, Giles Barnes (Cam Weaver 73).