Ugly wins count just as much in the standings as pretty ones, but they don’t get much uglier than it did for the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. In a match that featured a roughly hour-long rain delay, two red cards to the Houston Dynamo and 71% of mostly pointless possession, the Sounders finally got the winner in the 87th minute from a player signed to a short-term contract to secure the 1-0 win.
That player was Paul Rothrock — a Sounders Academy product who returned to the organization this offseason after spending the last two years in Toronto FC’s system. Shortly after entering the game, Rothrock found himself all alone at the back post and was able to put away an Alex Roldán cross that went through the penalty area.
Although this was Rothrock’s MLS debut, it was the third straight game in which he’d scored for the first team. He had previously scored in two U.S. Open Cup matches, most recently on Wednesday. He became the first Sounder to score in his first three appearances as well as the first one to score while on a short-term loan.
Prior to Rothrock’s goal, it was shaping up to be a frustrating evening. The Sounders started strong but after just nine minutes, the match was stopped due to nearby lightning. When it resumed about an hour later, the Dynamo were able to clamp down defensively even after Amine Bassi was shown a red card in the 20th minute.
From there, the Sounders dominated possession but hard a hard time creating any real danger. Rothrock’s goal was just the Sounders’ second shot on goal.
The Dynamo had come into the match riding a five-game home unbeaten streak in which they had yet to concede a goal but never looked particularly likely to score.
3’ — Jordan Morris heads a corner into the box that eventually comes to Dylan Teves, but his shot from about six yards out goes high.
9’ — A lightning strike causes a weather delay that took about an hour to resolve.
20’ — Amine Bassi goes straight-legged into Nicolás Lodeiro’s shin. Although it’s missed on the field, VAR flags it and Bassi is red-carded.
49’ — João Paulo puts in a good cross that is just outside the reach of Jordan Morris.
72’ — Almost immediately after entering the game, Ethan Dobbelaere makes a great turn to get into the box but fires a shot wide when it looked like Morris was open at back post.
78’ — Hector Herrera picked up his second yellow card, taking down Lodeiro from behind. Dynamo go down to nine men.
80’ — Alex Roldan plays in a good cross to Morris at the back post but his header his high.
87’ — PAUL ROTHROCK! The midfielder finds himself all alone at the back post after Roldan whips a cross through the box. 1-0, Sounders.
Quite a debut: While Paul Rothrock will get well-deserved attention for scoring the game-winner, let’s not forget about the play of Cody Baker. Like Rothrock, the 19-year-old was also signed to a short-term contract. Baker actually started at left back, a position he’s only played a handful of times, and while he was rarely challenged he looked completely comfortable. On the few occasions he had to make plays, he was up to the task. He also completed a rather astounding 73 of 80 passes and set up Morris for one of the Sounders’ best chances before Rothrock’s goal. Don’t be at all surprised if he signs a full Homegrown Player contract soon.
Ugly counts: This is probably about as forgettable of a win as the Sounders will ever have and if the had failed to grab all three points it would have been a rather massive disappointment. But they did get three points! They also registered their seventh shutout of the season, one more than they had all of last year. In our constant quest to exorcise the demons of last season, it’s still notable that they’ve now won two games 1-0 after not winning any games by that score last year. Take the points where they come.
Nearly wasted: Still, the Sounders played 70 minutes up a man and got to play about 13 up by two men and they had precious little to show for that. Credit to the Dynamo for staying compact, but the Sounders needed to find more ways to test Steve Clark than they did. This is now the fifth straight game in which they’ve scored one goal or less. Yes, there are a lot of injuries and they remain in first place but they’ve got to start creating more offense if they are to contend for anything.
Did you see that?!?
Paul Rothrock scores on his MLS debut, but this is actually his 3rd goal in 3 games for the Sounders first team.
He said what?!?
"If they had panned to the bench you’d have seen some frustration." - Brian Schmetzer when asked how he was feeling during the match.
It wasn’t the prettiest of victories to say the least.
5 of 6 - The Sounders have won five of their last six visits to Houston.