SEATTLE – It wasn’t pretty, but the Seattle Sounders will take it.
Seattle snapped their first losing streak of the season in ugly fashion Sunday night against the Houston Dynamo, emerging with a 2-0 victory at CenturyLink Field in a game that featured hard, physical play throughout from both sides. The Sounders picked up five yellow cards, while Houston picked up two.
“Sometimes when you’re in a little bit of a rut you sort of just have to fight your way through,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said after the game. “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 physical nature of the match came to a head in the 86th minute, after Seattle forward Obafemi Martins picked up his second yellow card and an automatic ejection following a hard tackle from behind on Houston’s Brian Ownby.
“I thought there were similar tackles [from Houston] that weren’t given yellow cards,” Schmid said of Martins’ dismissal. “Obviously it’s disappointing and made us work a little harder at the end. It is what it is.”
Seattle were able to hold on for the shutout in spite of the red card, benefitting from the return of defenders Chad Marshall and Djimi Traore. Marshall had missed Seattle’s previous two matches – both losses – with a back injury sustained in a minor car accident, while Traore was working his way back from a torn adductor.
“It felt good,” said Marshall of his return effort. “It’s always good to [get a shutout], especially at home.”
The Sounders defense also benefitted mightily from a big penalty kick save from goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who managed to deny Houston’s Brad Davis in the 26th minute after Traore was whistled for a handball in the Seattle penalty box.
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“That kept us in the game,” Marshall said of Frei’s save. “It was huge for us to stay in the game and obviously it made the difference.”
The victory was a historic one for Schmid, who finally picked up his 200th career victory on his third try after being denied the milestone in Seattle’s previous two matches. Schmid is the first coach in MLS history to reach the 200-win plateau.
“I’ve been coaching a long time,” Schmid said of the landmark win. “It’s fantastic to finally get it. … It’s a reflection of how I’ve had a lot of great players that have played for me.”
The win kicks off a busy week for the Sounders, who take on the Chicago Fire in US Open Cup play on Wednesday before facing Real Salt Lake in a Saturday road matchup.