Steve Zakuani ends Sounders FC's scoreless streak to start the season at 259 minutes.
With every missed shot, Sounders FC seemed destined for another maddening shutout loss.
Deep into the second half, despite controlling almost all of the game, Seattle found itself trailing Friday to the Houston Dynamo at Qwest Field. The combination had been a familiar one — poor finishing and bad luck — but fortunes finally changed for the goal-starved franchise in the 80th minute.
That’s when midfielder Steve Zakuani scored a tap-in goal off a deflected corner-kick at the far post to end a shutout streak of 259 minutes to start the year and allow Sounders FC to salvage a 1-1 draw in front of 36,204 fans.
The result might not have been ideal, but it kept Seattle (0-2-1) from going scoreless over three games for the second time in franchise history.
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Considering a 26-6 advantage in shots, however, it should have been a win for the home team.
“We played well enough to win 3-1, 4-1,” said Zakuani, who had missed the last game with a hip injury. “We didn’t do that and that’s the issue we have to focus on, but in terms of our passing, our movement, creating opportunities — it was first class.”
So was the effort.
“I think anybody who was at the game tonight knows that we left everything on that field of play,” said coach Sigi Schmid.
The game could not have been more one-sided in the first 45 minutes, when Sounders FC fired blanks 15 times — a team record for shots in a half. The pain of each miss was accentuated in the 42nd minute when a quick-strike Dynamo goal in the 42nd minute from Geoff Cameron appeared from nowhere.
The score, however, wasn’t the first surprise of the day.
Things got off to a eyebrow-raising start even before kickoff when Schmid shook up the lineup. Designated player Alvaro Fernandez and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, a MLS all-star in 2009, each started on the bench and didn’t play. Midfielder Brad Evans and defender Patrick Ianni started in their place.
The changes didn’t appear to rattle the Sounders, who dominated the first-half action. Zakuani and Evans each had chances on goal but couldn’t score on shots from distance. The best opportunity might have come in the 27th minute, but O’Brian White’s powerful header was saved masterfully by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Zakuani said the locker-room scene at halftime was “passionate.”
“We were frustrated,” said Zakuani, who kicked a chair. “We said, ‘What are we going to do? We’ve made chance after chance and the ball just won’t go in.’ “
Until the 80th minute. And considering refereeing decisions that couldn’t change the game in Seattle’s favor — denied appeals for a red card on Houston defender Hunter Freeman in the third minute and a penalty kick in the 71st minute — Schmid said it was a “first step.”
“At least we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “Right now we’ll take the point.”
• Several Dynamo players from Friday’s match claim Pacific Northwest connections. Hall is a Gig Harbor native. Defender Mike Chabala played at the University of Washington. Forwards Brian Ching (from Gonzaga) and Cam Weaver (Seattle University), and coach Dominic Kinnear are former lower-league Sounders.
• Two Sounders have MLS experience in Houston: forward Nate Jaqua, who made his debut as a sub in the 61st minute, and defender Patrick Ianni.
• Sounders FC next travels to San Jose for a road game against the Earthquakes on April 2.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Houston||1 0 — 1|
|Seattle||0 1 — 1|
First half — 1, Houston, Cameron 1, 42nd minute. Second half — 2, Seattle, Zakuani 1, 80th. Goalies — Houston, Tally Hall; Seattle, Kasey Keller. Shots — Houston 6, Seattle 26. Shots on goal — Houston 2, Seattle 8. Saves — Houston 7, Seattle 1. Fouls — Houston 16, Seattle 15. Corner kicks — Houston 1, Seattle 12. Offsides — Houston 4, Seattle 5. Yellow cards — Freeman, Houston, 3rd; Palmer, Houston, 30th; Ianni, Seattle, 43rd; Cameron, Houston, 46th; Gonzalez, Seattle, 74th. Referee — Ramon Hernandez. Assistant referees — Kermit Quisenberry. Bill Dittmar. 4th official — Daniel Fitzgerald. A — 36,204.
Houston — Tally Hall, Bobby Boswell, Andrew Hainault, Kofi Sarkodie, Hunter Freeman, Geoff Cameron, Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Corey Ashe (Danny Cruz, 85th), Jason Garey (Cam Weaver, 45th), Will Bruin (Brian Ching, 75th).
Seattle — Kasey Keller, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales, 71st), Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani, O’Brian White (Nate Jaqua, 61st), Fredy Montero.