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Sounders vs. Dynamo, recap: NouHouston

Nouhou’s first goal drives Sounders on to 2-1 win over Dynamo

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders got their first win in over a month as they beat the visiting Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Sunday night. The win, which broke a five-game winless streak, came in the most unlikely of fashion. After going down a goal, the Sounders’ comeback featured a Nouhou goal and assist, as well as a Nico Lodeiro missed penalty.

Despite some promising play in the opening stages of the game, Seattle found themselves in a frustratingly familiar position as they trailed after a somewhat flukey opening goal for Houston. Stefan Frei punched away a corner kick, but the attempted clearance only went as far as Houston’s Adalberto Carrasquilla at the top of the box. Carrasquilla unleashed a first-time shot into traffic where Daniel Steres redirected it into the back of the net to beat Frei. The Sounders kept pushing for a goal, but had trouble generating real scoring chances as the half wore down.

In the second half the whole world as we know it got flipped upside down. Just after Raúl Ruidíaz failed to connect on a great chance created by Jordan Morris in the 59th minute, the Sounders were back creating danger in the final third. This time Lodeiro managed to lay a ball off amidst a scrum to Nouhou, who pulled off an impressive right-footed finish through a closing window at the far post to level the score.

About 13 minutes later, after Fredy Montero got taken down to earn a penalty and Lodeiro stepped up to the spot, the game stood on a knife’s edge. Lodeiro’s miss felt like a possible turn for the worst, but it wasn’t long before Nouhou changed that.

Nouhou found himself in a little bit of space on Houston’s weak side when Lodeiro dropped a ball to him. Nouhou hit a perfect cross to Fredy Montero at the back post, and the header beat Steve Clark. The goal gave the team and the stadium a jolt of energy, and the Sounders kept pushing to extend the lead but ultimately and poetically Montero’s goal was all they’d prove to need. The team has their next chance to turn this win into a climb toward the playoffs on Saturday when they host Austin FC.

Key moments

3’ — For the second time in the opening minutes the Sounders get on the attack, this time with Nico Lodeiro driving at goal and shooting from the top of the box, but the shot is wide.

9’ — Raúl Ruidíaz nearly sneaks the ball in at the near post, but Steve Clarke is able to block the shot out for a corner.

26’ — Stefan Frei punches the ball away, but it falls to Adalberto Carrasquilla at the top of the box and his shot comes off Daniel Steres and into the back of the net. 1-0 Houston

41’ — Ruidíaz wriggles his way through a couple of defenders and into Houston’s penalty area with the ball at his feet, but the eventual shot goes out for a goal kick.

59’ — Jordan Morris puts a ball across the box that nearly finds Ruidíaz at the back post, but Seattle’s number 9 just can’t get enough of a touch.

60’ — It finally happened, a Nouhou goal! After the ball knocks around a bit, Nouhou gets on a failed clearance and finishes to the near post to tie the game! 1-1

73’ — Fredy Montero gets tripped up as he dribbles into the 18-yard box, earning the Sounders a penalty.

75’ — Nico Lodeiro steps up to the penalty spot and sends his PK to his right, which Clarke reads correctly and parries away.

76’ — And now a Nouhou assist! Nouhou sends in a cross that Fredy Montero leaps up and heads down towards the far post to take the lead! 2-1 Sounders

Quick thoughts

Nouhou Choochoo: Credit to Nouhou. He’s been trying, and the Sounders world — and MLS Twittersphere at large — have been willing it into existence for a while. Now it’s finally happened. Nouhou still did some extremely Nouhou things, but you can’t argue with either his goal or assist. Brian Schmetzer was full of praise for Nouhou after the game, as was Alex Roldan, and it’s genuinely great to see him finally get his goal.

Letting the youngsters grow: Schmetzer talked about the fact that starting Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio in the middle of the field together was a risk, but against Houston both players showed why they’ve both at times seemed like the break-out midfielder of the future. The two players combined to go 10/13 on duels, completed 113/130 passes, and consistently worked to advance the Sounders into Houston’s half and final-third while providing the defensive solidity to allow Albert Rusnák and Nico Lodeiro to move into more dangerous positions. It’s good to see these guys healthy and starting to fulfill some of their potential.

Winning is nice: It had been a while, it’s easy to understand that some folks may have forgotten what it was like for the Sounders to win a game. At the start of the game the stadium felt just a little bit off. It wasn’t necessarily tense, but it certainly felt less lively than you might expect from a 6:08 PM Sunday kickoff with a holiday the following day. There was singing and chanting from ECS, but the crowd just didn’t seem to have much in the way of expectations. When Nouhou scored to bring the Sounders level, though, Lumen Field was about as loud as 33,000 people are likely to be. That goal, from that player, gave the team and the stadium the energy to push on to a win. It’s been a rough month since Seattle’s last win, on August 2 against FC Dallas, but this win was a well-earned reward.

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One stat to tell the tale

52 — Nouhou’s first MLS goal came on his 53rd MLS shot. It was also his 149th MLS appearance. Only six players had waited longer to score their first career MLS goal.

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