There are a few things we can take away from this match. And even fewer will be positive towards this season or the next. The Seattle Sounders, despite being on the road, probably should have gotten a draw or better heading into this match against the completely average Houston Dynamo. But that didn't happen. Some of that was due to solid play by the Dynamo, but most of that was because of miscues and structural issues with Seattle team.
Sure, Brian Ching had an assist to go with his two goals, but much of the Dynamo success had to do with their exploitation of gaps between Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke and Tyson Wahl. This isn't to say that James Riley was perfect. He left some space for service into those gaps. This was probably the worst performance of the backline that we've seen. It wasn't one mental error, not two. It was a match that left them open to attacks from the Orange fairly often.
Only Kasey Keller prevented a worse result. Tonight he showed that he is an All-Star in performance, not just as respect for his nearly two decades of service with the National team and the Sounders. Some of the problems Seattle has can be addressed through coaching and film work. The problem of next year's keeper can only be addressed by finding another amazing player. Because Seattle without Keller is an average team.
On offense Seattle hasn't looked this weak for some time. Yes, there was heat, humidity and long travel, that doesn't justify the poor technique from Roger Levesque and Erik Friberg. It certainly doesn't make sense for Sigi Schmid to have kept Friberg in so long. The substitution patterns did not make sense either. While Levesque needed to come out, the height of Nate Jaqua wasn't the need at the time. Several balls just went too long for the tiring USL Sounder. Mike Fucito made sense then. When Pat Noonan came on more crosses were coming into the box, but it was Noonan himself that misplayed those balls, if anything he should have been the 3rd sub.
Some will focus on the referee. The referee didn't turn the ball over consistently. Sure, he allowed a very physical game, but by the second half Seattle knew that was going to be true and they must adjust to the circumstances. Begging him for more calls isn't an adjustment. It is an admission that the game as constructed is not going your way.
There are few reasons to feel good coming out of this match. None of them had to do with the result. All of them had to do with the play of Kasey Keller. Unless Seattle makes a significant addition in talent the window may close this season. If they don't make two the window may not be open in 2012.