The Houston Dynamo kicked off the 2017 season opener with a major upset against the reigning champion Seattle Sounders by a score of 2 – 1.
Houston’s revamped offense was roaring right off the bat as they immediately put Seattle’s defense under intense pressure for the first 10 minutes of the match. Erick “Cubo” Torres and Romell Quioto both had several chances early but were always just a tad off. The former’s shot went right to goalkeeper Stefan Frei while the latter’s went up into the Supporter’s Section. Once they were able to find their groove, the fireworks went off in the most spectacular way.
After earning a free-kick a few yards outside the box, Torres set himself up to take it. Quioto made a hole in the wall that the young Mexican International sent right through, bending his shot past a diving Frei to put the Dynamo up 20 minutes into the game. After 2 long, painful years, Cubo finally scored for Houston and had several other chances to increase his total.
As a certain someone predicted, as he goes so will the Dynamo.
Shortly after, Houston had put 11 shots towards net, which was an interesting point in time. In 11 games last season, the Dynamo failed to create 10 shots. In less than a half, they managed 11 and finished the game with 17, though only 5 were on frame. More on that in a bit.
The pressure eased up a bit after the half-hour mark and the game settled more in the Sounders’ favor. Despite controlling the ball, they couldn’t break down the Dynamo as Quioto and fellow Honduran International Alberth Elis were terrorizing the defense. Both the fullbacks and centerbacks for Seattle found it difficult to mark the wide strikers. Under constant pressure, both were able to pick up several turnovers on interceptions or good tackles.
It was just such a play in the 43′ that resulted in the score doubling.
Alex went into a hard tackle at midfield and the ball spilled perfectly onto Quioto’s feet. As he pushed forward, Torres made a brilliant run to the left, drawing a defender away. This created just enough of a gap between the defenders for Romell to bend the ball around Frei. He celebrated by creating a massive group hug/dogpile around new head coach Wilmer Cabrera.
With the half over, it was clear that this was the most fun fans had had at BBVA Compass Stadium since a 5- 0 win over FC Dallas.
Unfortunately things fell apart in the second half rather quickly.
Refreshed and refocused, Seattle came out with a mission and took over possession and the Dynamo seemed all too content to let them have it. Constant build-ups resulted in several shots, though only a few ever forced Tyler Deric into a save. The break through came in the 58′ after a cross sent into the box wasn’t cleared properly. Instead it bounced around and fell to Clint Dempsey. The Texas native made no mistake and slotted home the gift to put his team back into the game.
For Deuce, it was his first action since being diagnosed with a heart condition last year. Even though he had the Sounders’ lone goal, Dempsey was very quiet overall, which is to be expected. The finish will help him build confidence for the remainder of the season while the 90′ played will continue to regain his physical and, most importantly, match fitness.
As usual, when he was announced at the beginning of the game, Deuce was met with cheers.
Seattle should have tied the game up in the 72′ after constant pressure and possession forced the home side onto their back foot. A brilliant ball into the box found a wide open Nicolas Lodeiro to Deric’s left. His shot was rushed, however, and sent high and wide.
It turned out to be the Sounders last chance to tie the game up.
Oscar “Boniek” Garcia came in for Ricardo Clark and lit the field up with his defensive work. Within the span of a couple minutes, the veteran Honduran International stripped the ball cleanly from Dempsey and reigning Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris to start counter attacks. They were the kind of tackles that make US National Team fans nervous ahead of a crucial World Cup Qualifier on March 24. The stellar performances from Elis and Quioto probably didn’t help either.
It’s only one game but if they can keep that form up, it could make that game very interesting. Something to keep an eye on.
Despite several counter attacking plays, Houston wasn’t able to threaten Frei for the remainder of the game. Will Bruin came in for the final quarter hour of the game and was met with a mixture of applause and boos. Seattle’s attempts to counter back against Houston were unsuccessful as Bruin lacked the speed needed to get around Leonardo and Adolfo Machado. Morris could never find an advantageous position to receive the ball and get a shot off.
There was one final attempt deep into stoppage time but it was snuffed out with a hard, but perfectly timed, tackle from DaMarcus Beasley. Even though he got the ball, Run DMB went down hard and required medical attention from the training staff just as the referee blew his whistle for full time.
While the high pressure attack was entertaining it wasn’t very effective. The scatter-shot method only worked this time due to the brilliance from the goal scorers. As the season progresses Houston can’t be so wasteful with their chances and has to put a much higher percentage of them on frame. Vicente Sanchez made his debut and was extremely poor. in trying to lead the attack. He did put in some defensive work but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of offense.
Meanwhile Andrew Wenger did a solid job defensively for his 10 minute appearance.
Picking Man of the Match is easy as Romell Quioto was sensational all night long and the goal well deserved. An honorable mention goes to Eric Alexander. With Juan Cabezas serving a suspension carried over from his final game with Independiente Medellin, Alexander slotted in quite well. Though he lacks the physical toughness of Cabezas, he more than made up for it by marking his opponent tightly and proving constant pressure to force them into hasty passes. His passing was nearly flawless as well, keeping the offense moving smoothly, giving time for the wide strikers to get into position. Seattle’s Lodeiro became more and more dangerous and Alexander lost the steam needed to keep up. To keep the Uruguayan silent as long as he did speaks volumes.
The win continues an impressive run for the Dynamo. Since moving into BBVA, they are undefeated on home openers. Indeed they’ve only lost one all time, back in 2011 at the old Robertson Stadium.
Seattle cross the continent to face off against the Montreal Impact before returning home to host the New York Red Bulls. For the Dynamo, they welcome the Columbus Crew before heading off to Portland to test their might against the Timbers.
What did you guys think of the game? Which goal did you like best? Who was your Man of the Match? Should you be excited for the season ahead or are you cautiously optimistic? Surprised no one was sent off? Should someone have seen red? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comments or let us know on Twitter and Facebook at KeeperNotes.