For the third time in club history, and the first time in a month earlier than October, the Seattle Sounders traveled to the dry, sticky heat of Houston, Texas and came out victorious against the Dynamo.
Saturday's 1-0 victory marks the seventh consecutive win over the Dynamo, including the third straight in Houston, both across all competitions, including the 2017 MLS Playoffs Western Conference Finals. The win also moves the Rave Green above the Los Angeles Galaxy, who lost on Saturday, for second place in the Western Conference.
Without Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Victor Rodriguez, Kelvin Leerdam, and only 31 minutes of Brad Smith before the Australian International left due to an injury, Seattle fought to a lead and held on for the last 36 minutes, including stoppage time.
Jordan Morris started the match at forward before a halftime switch to the left wing put Nicolas Lodeiro up top as a false nine forward. Cristian Roldan started the match on the right wing before that switch put the United States National Team midfielder into the #10 spot. After a first half in which the team struggled to put any real offensive threat together, these changes surged the team forward to a strong second half, Morris goal, and eventual victory.
Morris' goal in the 59th featured a cross from Harry Shipp that sailed high into the air off a Houston defender's head and then landed near the Seattle star's right foot. Veteran Dynamo defender A.J. DeLagarza leapt over Morris, giving him the chance to flip the ball over Kiki Struna, another Houston defender, and tap the ball past goalkeeper Tyler Deric.
Defender Maynor Figueroa saw the chance to clear the slow-rolling ball, but came up empty as the ball steadily made its way over the line and into the back of the side of the net. No matter how fast it went in, the goal stood and Morris erupted in celebration.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer substituted winger Joevin Jones for Morris shortly thereafter and followed that move with centerback Xavier Arreaga for defensive midfielder Jordy Delem in the 80th minute to create a back-five, halting any and all Houston attacks. Arreaga made multiple clearances, tackles and major plays in the final stages of the match.
At the end of the day, despite having multiple key players out, despite the unusual lineup, despite the hostile territory and heat of Houston, and despite being out-shot 15-7 and out-possessed 58 to 42 percent, the Seattle Sounders found a way to win.
Other match notes include Roman Torres playing the full game while entering the day as questionable with an ankle sprain, 16-year-old Danny Leyva starting his third career match and holding down the defensive midfield for all 90 minutes plus stoppage time, and backup fullbacks Nouhou and Saad Abdul-Salaam putting in complete shifts for the club due to injuries at multiple other places.
The Sounders now look to see the returns of Ruidiaz, Svensson, Rodriguez and Leerdam as they prepare to face Sporting Kansas City at home next Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. KJR's Pre-Match Show from CenturyLink Field will start at 6:30.
Before you listen to that broadcast, scroll a bit further down and you'll find highlights from Saturday's 1-0 win over Houston, an interview with Jordan Morris, and KJR's Postgame Show breaking down the game and looking ahead to Kansas City next week with Jackson Felts plus former Seattle Sounders defenders Danny Jackson and James Riley.