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Hot, sweaty draw: Sounders erase 2-0 deficit to get point

Sounders come back to draw 2-2 on the road against the Dynamo ahead of a three-game home stand.

Last Updated
6 min read
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders went down to Texas for a midweek meeting with the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday. Despite a pretty dire first half that saw Seattle head into halftime trailing 2-0, the Sounders clawed back to draw 2-2 thanks to goals from Paul Rothrock and Jackson Ragen in a span of five minutes.

The game started evenly enough with Seattle getting the first truly dangerous shot, although the Dynamo had made a threatening foray into Seattle’s area that was broken up by Reed Baker-Whiting at the last moment. Houston started to really take control of things around the 15th minute, piling on pressure and forcing the Sounders into some frustrating turnovers.

In the 30th minute one of those turnovers turned into a real problem as Seattle couldn’t clear the ball from their area or make a meaningful intervention before Latif Blessing fully laid out to put home a cross from Amine Bassi. Ten minutes later it was Blessing again, this time with an unmarked header on a cross from Ibrahim Aliyu. The goal just minutes before halftime to put the hosts ahead 2-0 seemed like the kind of thing that would completely take the wind out of Seattle’s sails.

The Dynamo seemed the most likely to get the game’s third goal at the start of the second half. Jon Bell and Stefan Frei each made vital plays to deflect away incredibly dangerous efforts in the 53’ and 57’, setting the stage for Rothrock to put Seattle on the board. Following Frei’s play in the 57’ Seattle made their way down the field. Jordan Morris provided some quality hold-up play to drop the ball back to Josh Atencio, who chipped the ball through for Rothrock. Rothrock lifted the ball over a defender with a lovely touch, then looked off Morris running to his right in favor of his own shot from near the penalty spot. Steve Clark came up with the initial save, but Rothrock was first to his own rebound and put his second shot through traffic and into the back of the net to shrink the deficit in the 58'.

Only five minutes later in the 63’ Albert Rusnák set up a free kick on the right wing from 30 yards out. Despite initially being bracketed by two defenders, neither of them followed Jackson Ragen as he ran into the box towards the back post, right where Rusnák dropped the ball. Ragen made an outstanding flying effort to get a first-time touch and send the ball back where it came and into the far side netting to level the score. Not a bad way to bag your first career MLS goal.

Both teams continued to push for a winner with the game hanging in the balance, but it was Houston who had the real chances to retake the lead. They very well may have done just that if it weren’t for a pair of big saves from Frei in the 75’, or a little better luck/different bounce of the ball/a striker simply trying to touch the ball in the final minute of stoppage time.

In the end the two teams split the points, with both sides feeling rightfully frustrated they didn’t do more with their chances and somewhat fortunate they didn’t come away with less. The Sounders now head home to prepare to host FC Dallas - who now sit a place and two points behind Seattle in the Western Conference - on Saturday, June 22.

Key moments

9 - Shouts from Houston for a penalty on a tackle by Reed Baker-Whiting, but fresh off of his suspension RBW’s tackle was risky but clean.

10 - Albert Rusnák works his way towards the box playing a wall pass to Jordan Morris, but the shot at the end of the play is saved by Steve Clark.

17 - Houston have their first shot of the night, coming via Hector Herrera from distance, but the effort is easily caught by Stefan Frei.

30 - Goal, Houston. Latif Blessing gets the final touch on a ball that the Sounders just couldn’t clear after a bad giveaway. 1-0 Dynamo

32 - Another dangerous look off of a turnover by Obed Vargas, but the shot that comes is blocked by Yeimar out for a corner.

40 - Goal, Houston. Blessing again, this time heading home a cross from Ibrahim Aliyu. 2-0 Houston

45+2 - Baker-Whiting almost gets Seattle on the board with a deflected cross that just misses finding the back post netting.

53 - Griffin Dorsey carries the ball from well inside his own half into Seattle’s area and has a shot that Jon Bell gets a touch on to deflect it out for a corner.

57 - Nearly another goal against a scrambling Seattle defense, but Frei gets a touch to take it away from Blessing.

58 - GOAL! Seattle take the ball down to the other end and Paul Rothrock follows up his own shot to put away the rebound and pull one back! 2-1

63 - GOAL!!! Jackson Ragen at the back post! Rusnák sends in a free cross and Ragen is unmarked at the back post and finishes first-time beautifully! 2-2

75 - Big save by Frei! Frei first makes a save on Amine Bassi that gives up a rebound, but he’s able to catch the shot that follows to clean things up.

90+6 - A late, dangerous look for Houston. The ball in is flicked by Aliyu with Sebastian Ferreira at the back post but no final touch comes and the ball is gone.

Quick thoughts

Overcoming adversity: For the Sounders to accomplish the kinds of things that we expect them to this season, they’ll have to overcome a significant amount of adversity. Some of that adversity has come in the shape of injuries and absences, most notably with new Designated Player Pedro de La Vega being limited to just 103 minutes so far this season. A lot of the adversity has been their own doing, though. This game was that in a microcosm, as turnovers and difficulty picking up runners or clearing danger in their area resulted in a two-goal deficit. But in the hot, wet Houston night instead of wilting as the game progressed, the Sounders found a way to pull themselves level. It’s not a great game, but a road point in Houston in a midweek game with a somewhat rotated lineup is nothing to turn your nose up at even if it involved an incredibly bad first half.

RBWs rebound: Reed Baker-Whiting had played a really strong game last time out, but in the end it was all for nothing as his second-yellow red card served as something of a breaking point as the Sounders went on to lose to Sporting Kansas City. He served his suspension and returned to the starting lineup tonight as a left sided winger/wingback. It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch, but he was still able to provide some positivity going forward. Maybe most encouraging was that he also provided a couple of huge tackles that broke up dangerous moments and were the kind of plays that a young player having just served a suspension could easily have been too nervous to make.

Sweet set pieces: An area of Seattle’s game that has felt like it should be more of a strength for a while now is set pieces. In recent games it seems like that’s improved, in no small part due to the service of Albert Rusnák. He provided another assist – he’s on seven for the season so far, one more than his total in the two prior seasons with the Sounders combined – on a free kick tonight, setting up Ragen’s goal. Ragen is one of the players who seems like he should be more of a focal point of Seattle’s attacking set pieces, although his first career MLS goal tonight wasn’t exactly the kind of goal you’d expect from the 6’6” center back.

Notable quote

Player spotlight

Paul Rothrock – In his first career MLS start, Paul Rothrock scored his second goal in two games to get Seattle back into the match. Coincidentally this was Rothrock’s third MLS goal, but his second scored at Shell Stadium against the Houston Dynamo.