The Sounders got back in the win column against a top Western Conference side in a match where injuries once again tested depth. While the victory wasn’t the near flawless sort of drubbing they pulled off against the likes of Cincinnati and Colorado earlier in the year, it was something of a throwback to the gritty performances that helped them shoot up the table last season. That’s a very good thing as the Sounders are now in the middle of another three game week in which multiple starters will be out with injury.
- Cristian Roldan jump started the game with another long range blast that gave the Sounders the lead five minutes into the match. That’s his second banger in two matches, a very, very good rate for those keeping track.
- Victor Rodriguez went down with a hamstring injury in the 11th minute of the match. Harry Shipp entered the match shortly thereafter, and though it took him some time to find the match, ended up posting an impressive 95 percent pass completion rate which included one key pass.
- In the 25th minute, Alberth Elis missed a golden opportunity to tie the match off an Adam Lundkvist free kick. Elis hit his header low, presumable the right thing to do, but with so much force that the ball bounced off the turf and over the goal. The missed chance was the first of a few golden opportunities that Houston failed to convert.
- In the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Sounders put on a clinic and created a handful of great scoring chances. Lodeiro came the closest with a long range blast off the woodwork, but ultimately the team ended up with nothing from what was their best stretch to try to close out the game.
- As tends to happen when a team doesn’t score after dominating a match for a long stretch, the Houston Dynamo nearly snagged a goal against the run of play to finish the half. Manotas skied his shot. Another missed chance for Houston.
- The Sounders threatened a few times in the second half, but mostly kept safe possession as a means to protect their 1-0 lead. That strategy was working quite well until the Dynamo nearly scored twice around the 80th minute. Frei came up with his standard one exceptional play per match when he came out and stuffed Elis on the first of the chances, and Tommy McNamara flat out skied a perfect scoring chance from around the penalty spot a few minutes later. McNamara missed on the same goal that LAFC’s Cristian Ramirez missed on. Have the Sounders put a hex north end net???
- Jordy Delem put in another blue collar shift filling in Gustav Svensson. The back up holding mid from Martinique proved his defensive grit once again with two tackles, one defensive block, one interception, and five recoveries. Like a human vacuum, Delem cleaned up the Sounders messes with a cool confidence that belied the physical intensity with which he plays. Completing a rock solid 86% of passes was merely the icing on the cake as he linked up with the rest of the Sounders as well as he ever has in his time with the team.
- Finishing was hard to find for both teams. The 1-0 scoreline doesn’t do the back and forth match justice as large spells of play were very open and both teams found good chances to score. The misleading scoreline stems largely from the fact that of the 27 shots in the match, only five were on target. For the Sounders, the return of Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin after injury layoffs may explain some of the rust in front of goal, and hopefully indicate that more goals are just around the corner once the strikers regain their form.
- The Sounders used possession to control much of the match. That may seem like a minor detail, but since the team ceded the possession battle in four of the five matches prior to this one, it’s a good sign that they can still dictate tempo even when missing two of their starting five in the midfield. Their final mark of 53.5% possession is much more impressive when considering the team only held 43% of the ball through the first 35 minutes. Head coach Brian Schmetzer attributed the changing of momentum to swinging the ball side to side more in the back in order to open up more passing lines in the midfield. Being able to win games both on the counter and through possession remains a strong suit for the team.
Did you see that?
Maynor Figueroa took a fairly hilarious free kick in the 17th minute that sailed out of frame like it was taken for the sole purpose of creating a great shooting star meme.
One stat to tell the tale
The Sounders had 59.4% possession in the final 60 minutes of the match plus stoppage time. They took the life out the game for the Dynamo so that even the visiting team’s best chances came against the run of play and to strikers who couldn’t find a rhythm or much of the ball.
Quote of the day
Stefan Frei on Jordy Delem: "His work rate is second to none. Maybe shades of Ozzie in there." pic.twitter.com/2LWXOCg2HI— Ari Liljenwall (@AriLiljenwall) May 12, 2019
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