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Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo, Leg Two: Highlights, stats and quotes

“Houston came out ready to play, but I think my team matched their effort. I think my team matched their enthusiasm for the big moment. We were fortunate to have players of that quality and that caliber to make plays.” -Brian Schmetzer

The Seattle Sounders are going back to MLS Cup! What started as a match that looked hard for the Houston Dynamo to win quickly became almost a victory lap for Seattle as the home team tacked on goals throughout a dominant performance to win the West.

The Sounders have not conceded a postseason goal since the first leg of the 2016 Western Conference Championship.

Match Recap


Seattle Sounders FC 3 - Houston Dynamo 0

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field

Referee: Hilario Grajeda

Assistants: Peter Balciunas, Corey Parker

Fourth Official: Alan Kelly

VAR: Edvin Jurisevic

Attendance: 45,298

Weather: Clear


SEA - Victor Rodriguez (Will Bruin) 22'

SEA - Clint Dempsey (Joevin Jones, Victor Rodriguez) 57'

SEA - Will Bruin (Harry Shipp) 73'


HOU - Eric Alexander (caution) 29'

SEA - Nouhou (caution) 36'

HOU - Boniek Garcia (caution) 60'

HOU - Tomas Martinez (ejection) 66'

SEA - Joevin Jones (caution) 67'

HOU - Erick Torres (caution) 80'


Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Nouhou (Harry Shipp 68'); Cristian Roldan, Nicolás Lodeiro - captain, Victor Rodriguez, Clint Dempsey (Jordy Delem 59'), Joevin Jones (Jordan Morris 76'); Will Bruin

Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Tony Alfaro, Henry Wingo, Lamar Neagle

Total shots: 6 (Dempsey/Bruin, 2)

Shots on goal: 5 (Bruin, 2)

Fouls: 8 (Lodeiro, 3)

Offside: 8 (Leerdam/Jones, 2)

Corner-kicks: 5 (Lodeiro, 3)

Saves: 3 (Frei, 3)

Houston Dynamo - Joe Willis; Dylan Remick, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley - captain; Eric Alexander (Boniek Garcia 46'), Juan David Cabezas, Alex (Ricardo Clark 78'); Tomas Martinez, Vicente Sanchez (Erick Torres 62'), Mauro Manotas

Substitutes not used: Calle Brown, Andrew Wenger, Kevin Garcia, Jose Escalante

Total shots: 9 (Martinez/Manotas, 3)

Shots on goal: 3 (Martinez, 2)

Fouls: 11 (Alexander, 4)

Offside: 1 (Manotas, 1)

Corner-kicks: 3 (Sanchez, 2)

Saves: 2 (Willis, 2)

Post-Match Quotes


On repeating as Western Conference champions:

“The best part of my evening was when Ozzie [Alonso] took the trophy – well, outside of the three goals. The best part of my evening was when Ozzie took the trophy up to the fans and those fans stayed and they cheered every single player that raised the cup. That is the example that I keep talking about: The relationship between the fans and the players is what makes this club so special. The energy in the building from the opening whistle was good. Houston came to play, and we were ready to play, so it was a good soccer game in the first 45 minutes. So, all around it was a great evening and a great showcase for the Seattle Sounders. I congratulate Wilmer [Cabrera] on a tremendous season, it’s tough sometimes when you lose. But for me, as a guy from Seattle, I loved it when Ozzie did what he did and the players were able to enjoy this moment with the fans.”

On what it means to be from Seattle and celebrate with the fans:

“It was great but I would much rather deflect. I think it’s better for the players. They’re the ones who deserve the credit. They’re the ones who go out and there and do the hard work. That’s what I enjoyed. And I enjoyed our ownership group. I enjoyed Garth [Lagerwey], Chris [Henderson], all the guys that do the hard work that maybe don’t get all the accolades as well. Those guys deserve credit as well. It’s a really tremendous franchise, and I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

On what led to the team’s repeat as conference champions:

“At the beginning of the year, I talked about having a little bit of a [championship] hangover and all of that little stuff that came with it. There was incorporation of Clint [Dempsey] back into the group, Kelvin Leerdam coming in, Victor [Rodriguez] coming in. We had injuries to key players. I mean, Brad Evans didn’t step much on the field – Jordan Morris, Ozzie. We talk a lot about ‘next man up,’ doing the job, we had all of that. We had a motivated group, a veteran group. We had a team that during that long streak was able to manufacture points to get us into second, which was key. Then the two playoff series against two very talented teams. I think it comes down to the players just want it. They want another championship. I know Dempsey is super, super motivated. I know Roman [Torres], Nico [Lodeiro], Ozzie, and all the guys that were here last year, they’re super motivated. Joevin Jones, who is leaving us [at the end of the season], he wants to out on a good note. We’ve got a crop of young guys like Cristian [Roldan] and Jordan and [Henry] Wingo and all of those guys, they’ve been training well. So, I think the group is ready to compete for another championship.”

On how the Sounders team compares to last year’s MLS Cup team:

“Well, I’m not going to compare the two teams until quite yet until after that result, but I will tell you this: Both teams had the right mindset, the right mental strength to persevere in critical moments. Now, we can argue about X’s and O’s and, you know, Nelson Valdez versus Will Bruin or stuff like that. I think there will be some interesting conversations amongst the fans and the pundits. You know, how did Toronto change? How did we change? I’m just really proud of that group of guys, and the mindset of both groups is strong.”

On the importance of the early goal tonight:

“Well, the quality of the early goal, how about that? I mean, that was a tremendous goal. Will [Bruin] had a good goal down there. All the goals tonight were very, very good goals – well crafted, good soccer plays. [The early goal] certainly helped us. Like I said, Houston came out ready to play, but I think my team matched their effort. I think my team matched their enthusiasm for the big moment. We were fortunate to have players of that quality and that caliber to make plays.”


On the win in front of the home crowd:

“It was great, the city deserves it. They come out and show their support every week, you know they travel to a lot of the away games, as well. I think it was the second highest attendance in postseason history, so that was great. It was great to celebrate in front of them. We still have our work cut out for us, we stil have a big challenge in playing against Toronto. Away from home, but you have everything to play for. But at the beginning of the season you want to repeat and we are in a position now that possibly now that can be done.”

On scoring three playoff goals:

“It always feels good to contribute. I’m an attacking player. So you know I’m going to try to get goals. But hats off to the whole team and especially the defense. They haven’t conceded a goal in the postseason and I think even before that. I think it’s been six games maybe? But anyway hats off to them. They’ve performed great and it’s really helped us be solid.”

On having time to reflect after being brought out early:

“It’s always great to be playing in big games. It’s what you dream about as a kid and there was a period where you don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t know if you’ll be able to come back and make an impact. To me, if you’re not making an impact that’s when you got to hang ‘em up. It feels great to be able to make an impact and the team played really well this year and I just had a lot of fun.”


On winning in Seattle:

“It was very special. It was our last home game. The team was really special they enjoyed this moment with our people.”

On having Dempsey back:

“He is a special player for us. We are lucky to be able to play with him. We have to make use of him in the final.”


On coming back and playing:

“Super special. Obviously to do it two years in a row is great but to win at home in front of our fans is a super special experience. For me it was awesome.”

On the process of recovery:

“Yeah it was long. It was a little longer than I thought it was going to be. But to be back out there it gave me chills, the reception and the fans are amazing, but you know it was a long and frustrating process. I’m willing to help the team in any way I can to go and win a championship.”

On his confidence:

“There were times during training where I would feel it and maybe not have that confidence but there were times this week where I felt good and felt confident and that I was ready to get back out there.”


On winning in front of the home crowd:

“Amazing. At one point towards the end of the game when all the lights went on I almost wanted to sit down and soak it all up. Then I realized I was still playing a game, but amazing. I said this before last year when we won those two trophies in Colorado and then in Toronto we were super excited but we were so excited to bring a trophy back home and really bring it to our fans. And for us to have an opportunity to win the Western Conference at home is tremendous.”

On describing the performance:

“Professional. Very professional. We handeled this experience very well. Same with Vancouver. So far in the playoffs I feel that we have played expecptionally well and tactically we were really smart. Defensivley sound. Also very dangerous even though at half we were only up 1-0. And we are sharing scoring. We are finding ourselves in a better part of the streak than we were last year.”

On the message going in:

“We wanted to look at this game as a single game. Obviously we had set ourselves up well for the series but we wanted to win this game we wanted to play well in this game and stick to our identity of a possession based team, a patient team, an organized team. Today I think, our last two games were some of the best games we’ve played and I think that bodes well for next week.”


On his goal:

“I saw Harry had the ball so I knew he was going to play me the ball so I started sprinting and we made eye contact, and he put in a great ball on the outside of the right foot and it curled right into my path and I was just happy to finish it off and reward him because it was a great ball.”

On Frei’s play at home:

“It builds confidence throughout the squad when you have someone like Stef in goal. He’s going to make a big save when needed. You know he didn’t have much action but he made the saves in the first half when he needed to. And he’s so good at playing out of the back and that’s something that we like to do and it just instills confidence.”

On winning at home:

“It was great. Afterwards I was just kind of sitting back and watching it and seeing all the passion that the fans portray. And you know it just makes you want to go out and play for them, and play for the city. And just it’s a great feeling to reward them with something like this, and we are going to celebrate it but we still got one more to do.”


On the positives to take from this match going into next season:

“You have to learn more when you lose because it’s going to prepare us for what’s coming next season. If we would like to go to the MLS Cup Final or the Western Conference Finals next season, we have to be more well prepared in terms of the balance we have to have because we came up short.”

On what the team needs to do to reach the MLS Cup Final next year:

“We have to be better as a team and have a better level. We have to be able to manage the schedule better. We were affected by the long periods…it’s all part of how we have to adapt to the league and adapt to the schedule. We need to continue pushing because the Seattle Sounders, individually, have better players than us. We need to be sure that we prepare a better team to try to be sure that we have possibilities in a series like this. And we have to be able to keep 11 players on the field.”

On if he’s proud of what the team accomplished this season:

“Definitely. I don’t think we were picked anywhere to make the playoffs, so for us, we feel proud that we have reached the Western Conference Finals. And we did it on the field – we didn’t do anything spectacular. We won when we needed to win. We did good things that no one was expecting, but we came up short in the Western Conference Finals against the best team in the Western Conference and possibly the MLS Cup Finals. I feel very proud and very thankful for my players.”

On Romell Quioto not being able to play tonight due to sickness:

“Yes, Quioto was sick and we had to use Dylan [Remick] as a right back. It was a great effort by him, but not normally [his spot]. We had some difficulties, but no excuses. We also have to have better discipline in keeping the 11 players on the field. That’s not acceptable by Tomas [Martinez] to get a red card. And it was a soft red card that we took in Houston that caused us a lot of problems. It is difficult against Seattle with 11 players and even more complicated with 10.”

On if he feels he needs more financial support for next season’s team:

“No, we’re not going to change. We’re the Houston Dynamo and our budget is not going to change. This is us and this is the responsibility that we have. We’re going to try and do the same thing with the budget and find the players we can afford. We don’t have the checkbook like Toronto or Seattle or New York City FC or Atlanta. We are the Houston Dynamo and we understand that. We are sure that we’re going to try to find the players that we can afford.”

On the plan with Vicente Sanchez playing high:

“The idea was we didn’t have that type of speed today…we didn’t have the endurance players and speed so we needed to change our roles. We were trying to keep the possession and be sharp in front of them – moving and touching and passing and making them feel uncomfortable. I think for moments it was good, but they scored their first goal in the 22nd or 23rd minute then in the second half, they scored in the 55th so the momentum was key for them. And it was very, very difficult for us.”

On how he thinks Seattle stacks up against Toronto:

“They’re good. It’s going to be a good final. The two best teams are meeting in the MLS Cup Final so that’s good.”

On if he was frustrated not being able to roll out a first choice starting 11 tonight:

“I don’t like to talk about excuses. We have a roster that we’ve built and if someone wasn’t there then the next one has to step up. At the end, this is the way we are with the players we can afford. They’re ready to play and we’re either going to do it or not do it as a team. It’s all Houston Dynamo – it’s not about specific players.”


On the match:

“You know it was a tough match, obviously. I could not be prouder. Everyone on this team. It was an incredible season from every player and every coach. We surprised a lot of people. You know final four remaining is a pretty impressive for the expectation of this year. Obviously it is not the way you want to end the season, but only one team gets to win at the end. So all and all it was an incredible season and I am proud of everybody.”

On what you had to do tonight coming into Seattle:

“Soccer is a funny game. Obviously it was a tough situation. We knew we had to be aggressive and so we knew we were going to give up chances. We were going to try and be aggressive and work hard until the end. Everybody gave everything they had. Unlucky. Obviously the result wasn't fantastic but we knew we had to take risks and we were going to leave ourselves exposed and that is the way these series go.”

On next season:

“Next season is a far season away. I am just excited to rest and relax and recharge the batteries. Then look forward to next year.”

On being back in Seattle:

“This is always an incredible place to play. I have got some really good memories here so. I have got some really good friends here, as well. It is always good to come back to Seattle. I spent a good amount of time here. I have a lot of friends on that team, so obviously I wish them the best of luck in the final. Obviously it is good being back.”


On the match:

“They are a better team over two games. Hats off to them. That is it.”

On the team’s run this year to make it to the Conference Championship:

“Obviously no one expected us to get this far except us. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We were really confident coming into this series. Especially how we had been at home. The series was over at home. We gave up two goals. When you don't do the little things right you can never win a football match, ever. We got a lot of little things wrong at Houston and it made for a difficult night. Seattle is a good team. They play well together and they have been playing well together for a long time and they are the defending champions. We can be proud of what we accomplished this year. We had a lot of new players. For a team that basically had a whole new starting lineup to get to the Western Conference final in the first year, that is pretty good, that is not bad. Obviously I am sure the coaching staff and the background staff will get the team back up and running next year. Hopefully the team is back to the Conference Finals yearly.”

On the team's strategy going into the second half only a goal down:

“Just keep going. You saw what our lineup was. We had to win, so obviously it was going to be an open game. You saw that. Obviously if you have seen us play this year we don’t play like that, usually, you know. We had to, you know, we were going to go for it. We are confident in the way we play. We were confident in the team we put out. It just didn't happen. Sometimes that is football. At the same time there are no excuses. The better team won. Seattle was better than us over two games. That is it. They played better than us at home. They played better than us in their house. You can’t win in that. Hats off to them. They deserved it. We are going to come back. The team is going to come back stronger next year hopefully.”

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