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.
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.”