Fredy Montero fired a low drive into the corner of the net for a 64th-minute game-winner as Sounders FC prevailed 2-0 over Houston on Sunday in front of 36,111 at Qwest Field.
Sounders FC peppered the Houston Dynamo goal by all manners Sunday night.
Crosses, shots from distance, combination plays — nothing could get past the Dynamo defense and goalkeeper Tally Hall for the first hour of a rough-and-tumble MLS match.
Then Seattle broke through with the most direct of approaches, as forward Fredy Montero shielded off a defender to gather a long, bouncing clearance from goalkeeper Kasey Keller — perhaps the most unlikely of playmakers — and fired a low drive into the corner of the net for a 64th-minute game-winner as Sounders FC prevailed 2-0 in front of 36,111 at Qwest Field.
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In the 88th minute, Seattle tacked on an insurance goal when designated player Alvaro Fernandez scored on a breakaway in his home debut after a great pass from Montero.
“This is definitely the highest level we’ve had,” said Montero, through a translator, on the team’s closeness. “I’m very proud of the team that’s playing today.”
Seattle (8-8-4) boasted a 14-6 advantage in shots to win its fourth straight league game and extend its unbeaten streak in all competitions to eight.
“We’ve been talking about how we’ve wanted to get to .500,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve also been talking a lot about making sure … we win here at home.”
Houston (5-9-5) is winless in its past nine MLS games and dropped to 1-6-2 on the road.
A bruising match saw bodies and yellow cards fly throughout a contentious 90 minutes. It took a moment of magic from Montero — who else? — and the first assist by a goalkeeper in Sounders FC history to best the physical visitors.
The 23-year-old Colombian forward has eight goals and nine assists this season, and has recorded a goal or assist in nine consecutive MLS matches. Montero also has been directly involved in 14 of his team’s past 17 league goals.
“Fredy is on fire,” Keller said. “He’s working extremely hard. He is doing some great stuff. … What I like so much about his game right now is that he has got a ton of assists as well. He is really turning into a complete player and I’m proud of him.”
Added Schmid: “He’s probably, if not the best forward in the league right now, as good as any forward in the league. … Right now Fredy has found a very rich vein of form.”
Montero nearly got on the scoresheet earlier in the 47th minute when he released speedy Steve Zakuani for a breakaway. After a couple of dribbles on goal, the midfielder’s disappointing shot was saved by Hall, a Gig Harbor native.
In the first half, Seattle forced Hall into three big saves, including a 14th minute stop on a Montero free kick and a one-handed diving save on an open shot by forward Blaise Nkufo at the top of the penalty box in the 37th minute.
Houston, while only recording two shots before halftime, had a number of threatening crosses from set pieces and open play, but the Seattle backline and Keller were up to the task.
Much like they have been throughout this recent surge.
“I think it’s starting to gel together,” Schmid said.
• Sounders FC came into the game 2-1-2 against Houston all-time, including a 2-1 semifinal win in the U.S. Open Cup. Seattle’s lone defeat came in a season-ending 1-0 loss in the first round of the MLS playoffs.
• Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear and four players (forwards Brian Ching and Cam Weaver, defender Mike Chabala and goalkeeper Hall) each have playing experience in the Pacific Northwest, either professional, collegiately or in high school.
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Sounders FC 2, Dynamo 0
|Houston||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle FC||0 2 — 2|
First half — None. Second half — 1, Seattle FC, Montero 8 (Keller), 64th minute. 2, Seattle FC, Fernandez 1 (Montero), 88th. Goalies — Houston, Tally Hall; Seattle FC, Kasey Keller. Yellow cards — Zakuani, Seattle FC, 29th; Riley, Seattle FC, 32nd; Nkufo, Seattle FC, 51st; Mullan, Houston, 59th; Chabala, Houston, 59th; Sturgis, Seattle FC, 70th. Shots — Seattle 14, Houston 6. Shots on goal — Seattle 9, Houston 0. Saves — Houston 7, Seattle 0. Fouls — Seattle 13, Houston 13. Corner kicks — Seattle 10, Houston 5. Offsides — Houston 6, Seattle 1. Referee — Michael Kennedy. Assistant referees — Chris Strickland. Jeff Hosking. 4th official — Alejandro Mariscal. A — 36,111 (32,400)
Houston — Tally Hall, Eddie Robinson, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Andrew Hainault, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Dominic Oduro, 76th), Corey Ashe (Brian Mullan, 58th), Brad Davis (Geoff Cameron, 58th), Brian Ching, Joseph Ngwenya.
Seattle FC — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Nathan Sturgis, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi (Mike Seamon, 85th), Steve Zakuani (Alvaro Fernandez, 69th), Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua, 87th).