After forty-five minutes, the Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo are tied up at 0-0.
While Houston has threatened offensively a few times, mainly on set pieces, it is Seattle who have had the better chances on goal. The Sounders front line tested Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall a few times throughout the half, but were unable to break through offensively.
Most of Seattle’s attack has come from the outside of the pitch with Sanna Nyassi and Steve Zakuani leading the charge with bounding outside runs. The two wide midfielders have been able to cross the ball in towards forwards Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo who have managed a few shots on Hall.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear expected an outside attack from Seattle and set up his starting XI accordingly, using the speed of Corey Ashe and Danny Cruz on the wings. Center-attacking midfielder Lovel Palmer was unable to start the game after receiving a red card last week against New York, so Brad Davis filled in in the middle and has been pushing up when able.
So far, Houston’s attack has been alright, but has lacked the bite and aggression fans grew accustomed to over the last few years. The Sounders have done a decent job of shutting down Brian Ching and Joseph Ngwenya, with both forwards being draw deeper into the midfield to receive balls.
The Dynamo defense, which has certainly had some shaky moments throughout the year, has looked alright in the first half. The pace of Seattle’s attack was a concern going into this game, but Mike Chabala has been effective on the wing and Andrew Hainault has been physical, shutting down attacks from the wings. When needed, veteran center-defensive midfielder Richard Mulrooney has been effective in the middle of the pitch, and has looked good most of the night.
With veteran goalkeeper Pat Onstad still out with his abdominal injury, young shot-stopper Tally Hall got the start in front of his family who comes from the northwest. Hall’s skills have been called on a number of times, but he has been quick to come off his line and make himself big when needed.
The second half of tonight’s match is sure to be interesting. We have already seen a physical match with fifteen fouls, two of which resulted in yellow cards (both Seattle players), and multiple chances on goal. There has been a combined count of nine corner kicks which have been the result of both teams pushing hard to get the opening goal. Typically games between these two teams have been physical, and it would not surprise me to see at least one player sent off in the second half.
Check back here throughout the second half for more updates as the action unfolds.