sexta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2016

MLS: Seattle made to wait to secure playoffs

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The Seattle Sounders hosted the Houston Dynamo on Matchday 32 of the MLS. The Sounders have been in some great form heading into the playoffs and will need to continue their great run here if they want to stay above the red line in two weeks time. At one stage it looked like they weren't going to qualify for the playoffs but the form of key players such as Jordan Morris and Osvaldo Alonso have helped them in their search to go one better than last years Conference Semifinal knockout to FC Dallas. As for Houston, it has been a Aston Villa-esque season for them as they have known their fate for some time now.

That fate being that they will not play in the playoffs for the third year in a row and will most likely finish bottom of the Western Conference. With Seattle having won four in a row and desperate to secure playoff football, I can't see any other result but a victory for the Sounders. The message from Seattle was clear from the off and that was to get at a weak Houston defence early and potentially grab and early goal. The first chance came when young gun Jordan Morris threaded through Andreas Ivanschitz on a tight angle which made it difficult for the Austrian who had his attempt saved at the near post.

Unfortunately for the winger he was injured in the build up just before he got the shot away which forced him to come off injured early for Swede Erik Friberg. Seattle were really starting to turn up the heat for the next twenty minutes and were looking threatening out wide and especially from set pieces. But it was Houston who had the next best chance and arguably the best chance of the game so far as striker Will Bruin was given way too much space on the edge of the box before having a shot which was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The next five minutes were much more closely contested as Houston started to settle.

Then they came close again as Andrew Wenger cut inside from the right onto his left foot before unleashing an effort which was well parried away by Frei. But Seattle still had the quality going forward and went down the other end and created their best chance so far as Friberg broke through one-on-one but was denied by Willis before it bounced back to him and just as he was about to tap in to an empty net Willis dispossessed the ball from Friberg's feet for a corner. Then Jordan Morris cut inside from the left and tried to curl one into the far corner but it was just wide. Nicolas Lodeiro has been fantastic since signing for Seattle from Boca Juniors and was on free-kick duties. 

The Uruguayan had an effort from the dead ball tipped over brilliantly by Willis just before stoppage time. That would be the last chance of a entertaining scoreless half from CenturyLink Field. Houston showed that they were not going to be easy beats in the first half and created some great chances of their own, most notably when Will Bruin hit the post. But most of the half was better from Seattle who definitely had the Dynamo on the back foot early, but couldn't keep that up for the whole half.

Houston surprisingly started the better in the second half and would find out that they would be denied by the woodwork for a second time in the match. Centre-back Keyner Brown rising highest from a corner before smacking a header off the crossbar. Ten minutes later Brown almost became villain when he almost turned into his own net but it one tout for a corner. From the resulting corner centre-back Román Torres came close with a header which just missed the far corner.
But then the game experienced a massive turning point as Seattle went down to ten men. An altercation between Osvaldo Alonso and Will Bruin resulted in Alonso scratching Bruin on the face. As punishment Alonso received a straight red and Bruin a yellow card. The red card didn't stop Seattle from attacking as substitute Nelson Valdez was denied at the near post by Willis.

The last twenty-five minutes were rather dull, but with Seattle having the massive home backing behind them they came close on a couple of occasions with some half-chances, but nothing to special. That was how it ended as Seattle would have to wait at least another week to secure a playoff spot. For Houston a well earned point although they would feel that playing ten men for most of the second half they could have got more from it.

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