Final Score: Houston Dynamo 2, Seattle Sounders 1
Seattle's Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Gustav Svensson*; Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso; Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Alvaro Fernandez; Jordan Morris
Substitutes: Will Bruin* for Fernandez in 76', Henry Wingo* for Svensson in 85'
* - New Sounders player
-Saturday night's MLS opener became a tale of two halves. Houston out-shot Seattle 15-2 in the first half, scoring twice, before the Sounders took control in the second half, out-shooting the Dynamo 12-2. "I think we learned a valuable lesson tonight...If we're not sharp from the minute the referee blows of the whistle, that type of result will happen," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said.
-The brightest moment of the match for Seattle came on a goal by Clint Dempsey in the 58th minute, assisted by Joevin Jones and Tyler Deric, Houston's keeper. It is Dempsey's first goal since August 21, 2016 after which he missed the rest of the season with a heart condition.
-In addition to possessing the ball far more, Jones moving higher in Sounder attacks stood out as a key to the second half success. In the first 45 minutes, Gustav Svensson, starting at right back in place of the injured Brad Evans, played high on disjointed attacks and got caught out of position on Dynamo counter-attacks.
-Svensson, a defensive-midfielder, clearly played outside of his comfortable position at right back. Houston forward Romell Quioto ran behind Svensson for much of the first half, creating crosses and chances for the Dynamo. While Svensson excels at crossing the ball while attacking, he lacked the speed to keep up with Quioto. "He was put to the test tonight," Schmetzer said.
-Stefan Frei kept Houston to only two goals with a few highlight-reel saves in the first 10 minutes, including one that deserves to be in the same class with his famous MLS Cup save in extra time.
-Houston's first goal (Cubo Torres, 20') came off a free kick just outside the Seattle box. The ball curled through the Sounders' wall, creating a difficult line of sight for Frei. Roman Torres, in typical Torres form, played physical for all 90+ minutes, however, a high challenge and foul created the free kick. Quioto scored the Dynamo's second goal after a stolen possession in the 43rd minute, beating Frei in the high-right corner of the net with a sensational kick.
"I think we can clean things up," Cristian Roldan said. "We showed glimpses of what we could be." Roldan also described the first half as "sluggish" and noted that the team did not come out "energized" at the beginning of the match.
-The Sounders started 0-3 in 2016 and ended up raising the MLS Cup in December, so one bad half in an opening loss is nowhere near an area of concern. Seattle will look to find their first point(s) of the season next Saturday, March 11, in Montreal.