HOUSTON – The Sounders, once again, melted in Texas.
Especially on defense.
Dynamo forward Giles Barnes scored twice — including on a blast from 30 yards — and Will Bruin added his sixth goal of the season as Houston cruised to a 3-1 win over Seattle in front of 22,289 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The defeat snapped Sounders FC’s three-game winning streak and four-game unbeaten streak as Clint Dempsey made his first start.
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The offense had plenty of opportunities as the team matched a season-high with 20 shots. The bigger concern was on the other end, where Seattle allowed its most goals since a 4-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 26.
“Defensively, we weren’t very good as a team,” said Marc Burch. “We weren’t getting much pressure on the ball, so they had easy looks.”
In the series between the teams, the home team has gone 8-0-3 when including the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup playoffs. Seattle fell to 0-4-1 in Houston, where the temperature Saturday was 88 degrees at kickoff.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Sounders (10-8-4) cut into the lead in the 65th minute when Shalrie Joseph headed in a free kick from Burch in a crowded penalty box. It was Joseph’s first goal with Seattle, but comeback hopes didn’t last long.
“We started pushing forward and we left ourselves a little too exposed,” Joseph said.
Houston (10-7-6) reclaimed its two-goal advantage in the 75th minute when Bruin slammed in a rebound after an open header by midfielder Warren Creavalle hit the cross bar.
“We can’t concede goals like that — that was a weak goal,” said Dempsey.
Added Joseph: “The game was over from there.”
The Sounders kept pressing, however, and nearly pulled another goal back in the 81st minute, but Lamar Neagle’s skillful back-heel attempt off a cross bounced off the post and into the arms of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“It was just one of those days, man,” said Neagle. “We had so many chances. It’s frustrating.”
It was Seattle’s seventh road loss of the season — a franchise worst — though coach Sigi Schmid said that wasn’t a major concern.
“Records are made to be broken,” he added.
Houston opened the scoring in the 17th minute on a wild scramble that saw goalkeeper Michael Gspurning out of position. Barnes capitalized on the open-net opportunity on a pass from Bruin.
Barnes then doubled the lead four minutes later in spectacular fashion with a strike from well outside the penalty box that sizzled into the top corner of the net.
“I tried everything,” said Gspurning, “but I wasn’t able to reach it.”
The Sounders, who fell to 0-17 all-time when allowing the first two goals, also had first-half chances, but couldn’t finish any of seven shots.
Neagle, playing forward with Eddie Johnson (suspension) and Obafemi Martins (sprained ankle) out, skipped a shot wide in the 16th minute. Mauro Rosales missed an open header in the 36th minute.
“It’s easily a game that could’ve been 3-3 or 4-4 based on the chances we had,” said Schmid.
Dempsey had a team-leading five shots for a second straight game — playing 140 miles southwest of his hometown of Nacogdoches — but none got by Hall.
“I’m still working on that sharpness, that final shot in front of goal,” Dempsey said. “I was lacking that a little bit tonight. I like to think I could have put at least one of those opportunities away.”
He would’ve needed to score more than that, however, to make up for the team’s poor defensive effort.
• Four of Sounders FC’s next five games will be at home, starting Aug. 25 against Portland, a game that has already sold out the full capacity of CenturyLink Field (66,500).
• Sounders defender Djimi Traore limped off the field in the 79th minute with an ankle injury, but it is not expected to be serious.