Sounders FC, Houston play to scoreless tie
Second leg of series will be played Nov. 8 at Houston.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
The first leg of the Houston Dynamo-Sounders FC conference semifinal match ended without a goal being scored.
Advantage Dynamo, says conventional wisdom. Houston goes home for the final leg.
But Sounders FC left Qwest Field believing it can win the series. Sounders FC has won its past two games on the road and got a draw in Houston on Aug. 23, proving it could make a game of it against one of Major League Soccer's best teams in its stadium. On Nov. 8, however, Sounders FC will have to score to win, or at least outscore the Dynamo on its pitch.
"Getting a draw on the road is good for them, but we've been a good road team and we just have to go into Houston," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said "So it's 0-0 at halftime, they're going to be under pressure to try and do more things at home."
Houston overcame a boisterous Rave Green home crowd of 35,807 and at least three very good scoring chances by Seattle to leave Qwest with the draw. It also, arguably, got an assist from referee Ricardo Salazar, who handed down yellow cards to Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad and Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero in the 16th minute for unsporting behavior, though Onstad clearly knocked Montero down with a shoulder block and Montero could not retaliate while on the ground.
Montero said he did nothing to provoke Onstad.
"He was mad simply because he wanted to hold the ground in the middle and I was watching the ball," Montero said. "I was only in his area and he pushed me and I fell. It was a yellow card for me that I didn't want because I didn't really do anything."
The incident sparked a scuffle and set the tone for what was a physical match that saw each team draw three cautions and the Dynamo commit 18 fouls to Seattle's six.
"There were a lot of calls I was confused about," Schmid said. "The game was very physical, it was allowed to be played that way. If it's going to be that way in Houston then we'll be ready for that as well. But it takes away from the guys who can play and make an impact on the game."
Salazar, who disallowed an apparent Seattle goal by calling a foul up the field in the 77th minute, was asked after the game why he cautioned both players and explained that Onstad was given a yellow card for "game disrepute" and Montero for "faking injury."
The match was the latest chapter in the rivalry, another hard-fought battle with plenty of aggressive tackles and even blood. Sounders FC forward Nate Jaqua was inadvertently kicked above the left eye in the first half and suffered a cut and bruising that required a bandage around his head in the second half.
Jaqua headed a ball right on Onstad in the 74th minute, but the veteran goalkeeper batted the ball up and away. Another Sounders FC player formerly with the Dynamo, Patrick Ianni, was turned away twice, once when his header was cleared off the end line by defender Brian Mullan, and again in the 43rd minute when another header hit the cross bar.
"The first one ... I thought that had a good chance," Ianni said.
Ianni was a late addition to the starting lineup when center back Tyrone Marshall was scratched with a strained right knee ligament. Marshall was kept out as a precaution and is expected to be ready for the next game.
There was no overtime Thursday, but there can be 30 minutes of extra time, divided into two 15-minute periods, if the score is tied after regulation time in Game 2. The winner will advance to the MLS Western Conference championship game.
• The attendance set an MLS record for largest crowd for a conference semifinal in league history.
• The second leg of the Sounders FC-Dynamo series will be carried locally on KING-TV on Nov. 8 from Houston, beginning at 11:30 a.m. The match will be broadcast nationally on Telefutura.
• Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was named MLS Player of the Month for October. Ljungberg, Sounders FC's designated player and the highest-paid member of the roster, recorded four assists in Sounders FC's three regular-season games this month, all victories. The second win, Oct. 17 at Kansas City, where Ljungberg assisted on two goals, put Seattle into the playoffs.
• The pre-match traditional Golden Scarf was presented to technical director Chris Henderson.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dynamo 0, Sounders FC 0
|Houston||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle FC||0 0 — 0|
Houston — Pat Onstad, Brian Ching (Cam Weaver, 89th), Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Geoff Cameron, Dominic Oduro (Luis Angel Landin, 79th), Mike Chabala, Stuart Holden, Andrew Hainault, Brian Mullan, Bobby Boswell.
Seattle FC — Kasey Keller, Patrick Ianni, Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero (Roger Levesque, 63rd), Steve Zakuani (Sebastien Le Toux, 82nd), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Nate Jaqua, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley, Leo Gonzalez.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.