Dynamo says it will be ready for Sounders FC at Qwest Field
Sounders FC's two wins and a draw against Houston this season are the basis for an emerging rivalry.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Houston @ Sounders FC, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Sounders FC vs. DynamoSeattle and Houston have played three times this season:
July 11, Sounders FC 2, Dynamo 1: With Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid away from the team to attend his son's wedding, assistant Brian Schmetzer guided Seattle to a victory at Qwest Field. Sounders FC defender Patrick Ianni got off an amazing bicycle kick amid a flurry of activity in front of the Dynamo goal, and it went into the net, snapping a 1-1 tie early in the second half.
July 21, Sounders FC 2, Dynamo 1: Seattle secured a spot in the U.S. Open Cup final with two late goals in a game played on the bouncy FieldTurf at Tukwila's Starfire Sports Complex: Nate Jaqua (bloodied with stitches and a bandage around his head after an earlier collision) in the 89th minute, and seldom-used midfielder Stephen King four minutes into overtime. Sounders FC hung on with 10 players for the last 10 minutes.
Aug. 23, Dynamo 1, Sounders FC 1: Playing in the high heat and humidity of a South Texas summer, Jaqua scored the tying goal in the 70th minute and Seattle salvaged a draw at the home field of one of the top teams in MLS. Schmid called it one of his top moments of the season.
José Miguel Romero
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Think Brad Davis and the Houston Dynamo are going to be intimidated by the endless roar of the Rave Green faithful tonight at Qwest Field?
Think again. Not only are Davis and his teammates brimming with confidence, they feel they still have the makings of a championship club.
"They have a lot of guys who like to attack," Davis, a midfielder and the Dynamo's all-time assists leader, said of Sounders FC. "We have a pretty good defense. It's a double-edged sword. If we play solid defense, we can catch them sleeping.
"We have a bunch of depth and a lot of experience," Davis added when his team's two Major League Soccer titles were brought up. "Really, except for two people, it's the same group. We've been atop the West for a reason."
The playoffs begin for upstart Seattle, in its first season, and the more tested Dynamo at 7 p.m. Thursday at Qwest Field.
Davis has caught Sounders FC sleeping before. He had a goal and an assist in the three matches that Houston played against Seattle this year. But Sounders FC has won the wars, with two wins and a draw against the Dynamo.
There are established rivalries in MLS, and then there are budding rivalries. Dynamo-Sounders FC has great potential as one of the best rivalries in the league, based on how hard-fought and close the three matches have been.
"They have been the dominant team in the Western Conference for a number of years now," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "They're a veteran team. They know how to get to championship games and they've done it before. So we're the new kids on the block. It's been a real good competition in the games that we've played them, and it's going to be a hard, tough series."
Sounders FC has had some of its most memorable moments of its inaugural season against the Dynamo:
• Fredy Montero's goal that perhaps never crossed the goal line and Patrick Ianni's bicycle-kick goal, the winning goal against Houston in the first meeting.
• A collision involving Sounders FC forward (and former Dynamo player) Nate Jaqua that required stitches and a head bandage that made Jaqua look like a wounded Revolutionary War Minuteman, in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal on July 21. And young midfielder Stephen King scoring the winning goal for Seattle in extra time in that match at Starfire Sports Complex.
"Everyone should use Houston as sort of their measuring stick. They've been the class of the league the last couple of years," midfielder Peter Vagenas said. "It's good that we've been competitive. I think we've had their number this year, actually ... that being said, we do realize that they are the favored team, but at the same time, their run's got to eventually come to an end and we're just hoping that we can do that."
The draw in the rivalry came at Houston's Robertson Stadium, and after the match, Schmid called it a "character moment" for his team. The Dynamo's Davis maintains that the past is the past, however, and that Houston was missing key players in every match against Seattle.
"If you're going to go somewhere, this is the place to come," Davis said of playing in the atmosphere the fans provide at Qwest. "We're coming off a good win against Chivas [USA]. We've got everyone ready. We've got no excuses now."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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