Against the Houston Dynamo Sunday, the Seattle Sounders waited until the 33rd minute to record their first shot, the 80th to start connecting crosses, and the final seconds of stoppage time to knock in the equalizer in a 1-1 road draw. Center back Chad Marshall was in the right place at the right time, scoring the 19th goal of his 12-year MLS career.
The substitution of forward Oalex Anderson for starter Aaron Kovar in the 63rd minute represented a momentum shift in the match. Anderson’s speed was a game-changer, even compared to the quickness of Kovar and Jordan Morris. The St. Vincent international stretched the Houston back line, already on tired legs. Anderson’s speed created the match’s decisive moment.
In the third minute of stoppage time, a cross from Tyrone Mears was headed inside the box and landed with Anderson in the left alley. Anderson accelerated, leaving Leonel Miranda off-balance as he surged into the box near the end line. Houston keeper Joe Willis dove for Anderson’s low cross, but it bounced off his fingertips, took a deflection, and fell right in front of the waiting Marshall, who converted on his first touch.
It was a bright spot at the end of 10 minutes of enlightened play, preceded by 80 minutes of defensive miscues, nervy defending, and an abject failure by Seattle (1-3-1) to generate scoring chances inside the penalty area.
““It was a game of two halves,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “The first half I thought they were the better team. They were probably unlucky to (not) get more than one. We gave them way too much space in the midfield to play.
“I thought the second half we took the game to them. The equalizer was deserved, based upon how many chances we had gotten prior to that, so we’re very happy to come out with a 1-1.”
Houston (1-2-2) seemed so at home in Seattle’s defense in the opening 30 minutes that they could have set up patio furniture set and not seem out of place. The Sounders were inattentive to the lurking danger, tellingly revealed by the Dynamo’s goal in the 35th minute.
Jalil Aninibaba took a throw-in from the right side before receiving a tap-back pass from Ricardo Clark. Anibaba’s cross found in the penalty area an unmarked Giles Barnes, who nonchalantly scooped the ball with his right foot over GK Stefan Frei’s head into the left-side netting. Barnes was so casual about the goal at the time of the throw-in that he was strolling along with four defenders within five yards of him, his back to the ball.
The score left the home fans cheering and Sounders defenders yelling at each other, trying to make sense of who was supposed to go where. Both were common refrains until Marshall’s final tally.
At least 10 of Seattle’s 14 shots were taken from outside the penalty area and the few of those that went on goal did not seriously challenge Willis. Without Obafemi Martins, the Sounders continue to struggle to get touches in high-percentage scoring areas.
Seattle returns home with a road point, a second goal this season scored from open play, and plenty of improvements to make at both ends of the pitch.