Well, more suffering for fans at Qwest. It's beyond a cliché to say that MLS referring is subpar, but there were two hugely controversial calls that will soon be reverberating over the interwebs. First is Onstad getting off with just a yellow. It's hard to see how that's not a red, and the Montero yellow is also mystifying. The second is the whistle stopping play as the ball arced toward the Houston penalty area. The advantage rule was put in place to prevent a team from benefiting from fouling. In this case, Houston got one of the biggest benefits possible.
Enough of that for now. All in all I thought the team put in a good effort, even if they couldn't quite put together a scoring move. Overall I thought we had a better performance than Houston for most of the match, but I wouldn't say that either team was truly dominant in the game for any stretch.
Here's how I saw some of the more important individual performances in this match:
- In my opinion, Ljungberg was Man of the Match. Once again, he put in a world class effort and was a constant threat all over the field. It was evident that he was getting extremely frustrated but he kept it under control and kept his focus on the game.
- Jaqua put in another good performance, and I'm sure he felt some déjà vu when the wrap was going on his head.
- Montero had a quiet night and his miss wide in the second half was a painful and much too familiar sight for Sounders fans.
- Ianni was a great presence on both sides of the ball and played with confidence. He was especially effective on corners and could have put us up 2-0 but for the crossbar and a right-place-right-time goal line clearance. Sigi will have a tough choice to make if Marshall is healthy for the next game.
Now it's all down to the game in Houston, and whether we can continue our recent road form. Both teams have a ludicrously long time to think things over and while Houston may have somewhat of an edge, I have to say this series is too close to call. Houston was very conservative tonight, and even though they did get some good chances in, they seems to be very satisfied with counterattacking and walking away with the draw. The Sounders have done well against attacking teams this year, and my sense is that Houston could feel an obligation to take the game to us in their home stadium. If they do and play opens up in Houston, the Sounders are very capable of taking advantage.
I'm sure Dave will be posting soon with some real numbers and I'll be very interested to hear his take. Tonight wasn't a dream night for the Sounders nation but it wasn't a nightmare either. We're still very much alive and Sigi and the veterans will have to pull the team together so we can push our way into the next round.