HOUSTON – Obafemi Martins' day started quiet, but that did not matter much. The Nigerian was in the right place at the right time late in the game, heading home a goal-line equalizer to give the Seattle Sounders a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo.
Martins had one of three total shots for the Sounders on the day before the goal, but an 82nd-minute corner from Andreas Ivanschitz found its way through several players and reached Martins, who tapped it in with his head to cancel out Ricardo Clark's opener.
The result moved Houston to 42 points but eliminated them from Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs contention. It also pushed Seattle to 48 points and into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers, who are slated to play the LA Galaxy later on Sunday night.
Houston’s goal came from a pair of long-time Dynamo players on the day the club celebrated its 10th season. A minute after getting a yellow card for persistent infringement, Luis Garrido made up for it initiating the sequence that led to Clark’s eighth goal of the season.
Garrido worked through an attempted tackle to release Brad Davis, and the Dynamo captain squared the ball to an open Clark at the top of the box. Clark took a touch, saw Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei cheating to the far post and hit a low shot the other way to claim the 65th-minute lead.
Will Bruin had Houston’s share of chances early. Twice in the first 12 minutes Bruin got free through the left side of Seattle’s defense, but his shots had too much angle and did not seriously challenge Frei.
On the other end, Seattle came close in the 17th minute when Martins went inches wide of an opener. Brad Evans worked his way through three Dynamo defenders to release Martins, who beat David Horst on the run. Martins’ ensuing roller beat Tyler Deric, but was just outside the far post and the visitors let the Dynamo off the hook.
The game leveled off to end the first half and neither team was able to threaten much.
Seattle didn’t take long to get into the flow of the game after the break, though. After a quiet first half, Clint Dempsey made his presence felt through nifty work with the ball to get into a 1-on-1 situation with Deric. The Dynamo ‘keeper closed him down and deflected the point-blank shot wide to keep the game scoreless.
Both teams exchanged chances to win the game late, but neither was able to muster up the final ounce of quality.
Bruin came closest to earning three points for the Dynamo, but his 85th-minute header, which would have prolonged Houston’s playoff hopes, beat Frei to the far post before going wide. His replacement, Mauro Manotas, had two chances in the final three minutes but was unable to connect.
For Seattle, Dempsey fired a knuckling 23-yard free kick that prompted a strong save from Deric to keep it level at a 1-1.
Houston finish the season on Saturday with a trip to face the Vancouver Whitecaps while Seattle continue to battle for playoff positioning in a home finale against Real Salt Lake.