Seattle Sounders learn from first-half mistakes in Houston, eager to put match behind them

TUKWILA, Wash. — “There were people out there who just now expected us to win every game, which isn’t going to happen.”

Three days after dropping the season opener 2-1 in Houston against the Dynamo, Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei wanted to put things in perspective. Yes, the Sounders were coming off their first MLS Cup in franchise history last season, but a road loss in a place where they have still never won may not be the best barometer of how 2017 will pan out.

The Dynamo jumped all over the Sounders from the opening whistle and spoiled any carry-over from last season’s celebration. Erick “Cubo” Torres and Romell Quioto each scored in a first half that saw Houston outshoot Seattle 14-2.

“Our play wasn’t as sharp as it should have been,” said head coach Brian Schmetzer. “A couple of individual plays where we gave the ball away contributed to them gaining some momentum early in the game.”

The Sounders had decent possession in the first half, but had too many mistakes that led to Houston’s goals. The top three of Torres, Quioto and Alberth Elis pounced on any loose balls and made the Sounders pay for them.

“We want to be a possession-based team, and especially then you have to make sure you treat the ball with the utmost respect and don’t give the opponents silly turnovers,” said Frei. “They were waiting for those things and tried to wait for us to create chances for them.”

The Sounders rebounded strongly in the second half in a similar fashion to that in Portland last season after taking a 4-0 deficit into the break. Seattle would lose both games, but Schmetzer was more concerned with his team would respond and fight back and with how much character they would show.

“What we always try to see out of the group [at halftime] is a reaction,” said Schmetzer. “We need to see a change for the second half. That was a positive. They took the instruction, they were able to implement what we saw.”

The Sounders dominated in the second stanza and reversed their fortune, outshooting the Dynamo 12-2 and repeatedly putting them on their heels. Clint Dempsey scored in the 58th minute, but an elusive equalizer never came.

The coaching staff has meticulously watched film of last week’s match and are determined to nip any glaring issues in the bud and ensure that one loss doesn’t become two. Schmetzer said it was difficult to assess how and why the Sounders lost because it was a large amount of little things here and there.

The players were irritated with their performance they saw on tape, but Schmetzer has the team fully locked in on the match in Quebec this Saturday against the Montreal Impact (4 p.m. PT; JOEtv, ROOT Sports outside Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM).

“Every inch, every tackle, every point has to be gained again,” said Frei. “We have a lot of quality in here, there’s no need to panic.”

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