BY Stanley Holmes 11:36PM 03/25/2011

Sounders score, questions linger

Attacking relentlessly and out-shooting Houston 26-6, Sounders delivered only once in draw with Houston.

Sounders defending their goal -- a rare moment against Houston / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Seattle Sounders finally scored a goal.

They failed to quiet concerns about the team’s ability to finish its chances.

They eked out a 1-1 draw in a match they should have won 5-1, based on the number of opportunities created.

By the time Steve Zakuani capitalized on a lucky bounce, one had to wonder when the next goal would come — next game, decade or Ice Age.

It seemed the Sounders did everything possible to punch one into the net — 26 shots on goal, a club record. That included a record 15 shots at Dynamo keeper Tally Hall in the first half.

They even earned a free kick in the opening minutes of the game, when Erik Friberg sneaked behind the defense and was pulled down by Houston defender Hunter Freeman just outside the 18-yard box. But he saw only a yellow card. In the 72nd minute, they had a penalty kick when Leo Gonzalez was tripped in the box. But it wasn’t to be. The referee thought otherwise.

“I think we deserved more tonight than a tie,” Coach Sigi Schmid said. “I’m very proud of the team. I’m very proud of the effort they put in. I thought we had a PK; still think it’s a PK after seeing the replay.

“Right now we can’t get anything to break our way sometimes. So I’m happy that we fought back and got the equalizer.”

The match was exciting, full of one-way action directed at Houston’s second-string goalie, who decided to make a case for the starting job. The Sounders played with energy. They played some scintillating attacking soccer; their passing and movement was superb most of the evening.

But for nearly 80 minutes, they couldn’t buy a goal. The shots came from inside the box. From outside the box. From the corners. From one-on-ones. From the top of the 18-yard box. From a staccato burst of successive shots that pinged and ponged and went the wrong way. Every bounce in the box seemed to escape a Sounders’ foot.

Fredy Montero offered two left-footed beauties — one a half-volley among numerous efforts. O’Brian White directed a powerful snap-header that forced a fantastic save. Friberg. Zakuani. Brad Evans. They all had cracks at it.

Nothing worked.

Making matters worse, Houston’s Geoff Cameron blasted in a rebound that deflected off defender Jeff Parke to put up Houston  1-0 in the 42nd minute.  The goal came from a Lovel Palmer free kick about 25 yards out, one of the rare moments Houston even ventured into Seattle’s territory.

Finally, the moment arrived in the 80th minute that 36,204 Qwest Field fans had been wishing for all night, the moment that fans had been discussing all week — and it was one of Seattle’s least artful goals.

But it was a goal. Friberg, who continued to show why he belongs in the starting midfield, sent in a corner kick from the right. It took a lucky bounce off a Houston defender and Zakuani pushed it in from three yards away.

Delirium ensued as the faithful rocked Qwest Field. They wanted more. They felt entitled. The Sounders attempted to oblige. They continued to press, aiming stinging shots right at the goalie, or just wide, or too high.

But another goal was not to be. The fact they couldn’t put another one into the net dampened the outcome.

Still, no one could fault the effort. Every player pushed.

“We played well enough to win the game three or four to one,” Zakuani said. “We didn’t do that, that’s something we’ve got to focus on. In terms of our passing, our movement, creating opportunities, it was first class today.”


  • Jay

    I pray that Seattle drafts Pryor for their quarterback. I think that he will be ready to take over the offensive by game five.

    • Moparpeetie

      hafta agree with John… he’s a project at best. Bring back Matt for 2 years. with an o-line he is perfectly capable. with that comes relief for the defense… NO defense can be on the field as much as ours can be expected to perform… 3 & outs just don’t help the D. neither will a spoiled little brat like Pryor!!!!!!!!!!

  • John

    I hope they have a season this year, a full one. They must have pretty good confidence in Charlie to play this year, and no to Pryor, he is a perfect example of a project quarterback. He is a poor man’s version of Cam Newton, and I hope the Seahawks are not interested in him; this is serious football here with a team and a city that wants to win, not coddle and babysit a project who might be ready in 3 years if he ever grows up. Matt may be highly involved with the workouts, but nobody really knows if is actually going to be on the team this year. He already refused at least one offer.

  • marcelsees

    Kieth Price and the Huskies will fare only as well as our offensive and defensive lines play.  Our only hope for victory outside of a bunch of favorable turnovers is to dominate time of possession and score!  Price needs time against a stout Stanford D-line, but yes he could conceivably slice and dice.  Ta’amu and company must excel beyond merely competing with what’s a virtual NFL O-line, they must approach dominance.  This is a test for the Husky interior lines, not the skill players.   We’ll see just how far we’ve come.

  • Chevigny

    This one and all our games are about the defense- we know what the offense can do.