By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — After going more than 250 minutes between goals, the Seattle Sounders managed two in a six-minute stretch Sunday, and the result was a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.
The Sounders ended a two-game losing streak and moved back to the top of Major League Soccer.
“Sometimes when you’re in a little bit of a rut, you sort of have to just fight your way through to a victory,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Sometimes it’s not as artistic as you want it to be or as beautiful as you want it to be, but it’s a little bit of rolling up the sleeves and fighting.”
The win was Schmid’s 200th in Major League Soccer. He is the only coach to reach that mark.
“It was fantastic to finally get it,” he said. “I was starting to wonder if we were going to get it. But again, like I said, it’s a reflection of I’ve had a lot of great players who have played for me.”
The result moved the Sounders to an MLS-best 13-6-2, while Houston fell to 6-11-4.
After failing to score in their previous matches against Los Angeles and San Jose, the Sounders struggled again for 68 scoreless minutes against the Dynamo.
Then they broke through on a shot from Marco Pappa, which deflected off of defender David Horst and just past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“You have to enjoy scoring goals, it’s a part of the game,” Pappa said. “But more importantly we got the points after two difficult games where we failed to score. So we’re happy with result and I think it’s good for our confidence.”
The lead doubled six minutes later on a penalty kick from Gonzalo Pineda. Hall got a hand on Pineda’s kick, but couldn’t keep it out.
The match played out scorelessly from there in front of a crowd of 50,276 at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders moved to 11-0-3 with a plus-21 goal differential in MLS home games played before crowds of more than 40,000.
Defender Chad Marshall said it might have been a different story had Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei not saved a penalty kick by Brad Davis in the 26th minute after Djimi Traore was called for a hand ball in the penalty area.
“It kept us in the game,” Marshall said. “At 1-0, Houston, they’re a good possession team, they keep the ball. A lot of times you go down 1-0 at home and they get a lot of numbers back and it’s hard for us to get on the board. So it was huge for us to stay in the game.”
Marshall had missed Seattle’s back-to-back losses after suffering a back injury in an auto accident.
“Nice to have Chad back,” Schmid said. “He makes good plays, he wins headers, helps break up attacks, his knowledge as to when to step in is very good. I thought Djimi Traore was good tonight as well.”
Seattle played without All-Star right back DeAndre Yedlin, who had spent the previous few days in Europe as part of a potential European transfer. Schmid said the deal is close but not yet completed, so Yedlin was kept out as a precaution.
Brad Evans moved from midfielder to Yedlin’s position, while Seattle’s other three All-Stars started: Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins at forward and Osvaldo Alonso at midfield.
The game also was played on a slippery and discolored field, which Sounders officials said was the result of a corporate event held in the stadium last week.
The match started the busiest stretch of the Sounders’ season. They return to action Wednesday, meeting the Chicago Fire in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila. Then Seattle closes the week with a Saturday visit to Real Salt Lake. After that, three more matches await before the month is out.
Martins picked up his second yellow card of the Houston match in the 86th minute and will miss the visit to RSL.