The last time Sounders FC fans set their eyes on Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, he was walking through downtown Seattle while his father waived an orange Dynamo flag and his mother talked trash.
“They were just having a good time with it, and I just wanted to get into the car and not make a big deal,” said Hall, a former captain of the Gig Harbor High soccer team. “My mom was yelling at Sounders fans like, ‘It wasn’t a goal!’ ‘Merry Christmas!’ ‘You just got lucky!’ And I was like, ‘Mom, let’s just go to the car.’”
Drawing the ire of Gail Hall – and many other Houston fans – was a controversial Fredy Montero goal as the Sounders beat Houston, 2-1, on July 11.
The debate involved whether the ball crossed the goal before being cleared by Houston defender Mike Chabala.
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The referee’s assistant ruled it a goal.
Mrs. Hall ruled it a gift.
Tonight, her son is expected to start in goal as the Dynamo and the Sounders meet again, this time in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup in Tukwila.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Tally Hall said in a phone interview Monday. “The last two (Open Cup) games in Austin versus the Aztex and in Charleston have been good for me to be back on the field.”
They’ve also been good for the Dynamo as Hall presided over a pair of shutouts.
Those games have been Hall’s chance to shine with his new team, as All-Star keeper Pat Onstad has been in for every minute of Houston’s regular season.
“Like any player sitting on the bench, you’re looking to find more time on the field,” Hall said. “But talking to Pat about what goes on in the game and his take on it, he’s a good guy and more than willing to help me out. ”
Hall left Gig Harbor rated as one of the top seven high school goalkeepers in the West. He went to San Diego State, where he led his conference in goals-against average, shutouts and save percentage. He was drafted by Los Angeles in 2007, but signed instead with Esbjerg of Denmark.
He played in two league games there in 2007 and 2008 before signing with Houston on Jan. 23.
“So far I feel like it’s been the right move to come back to the States,” Hall said. “I’m having fun with the team and speaking English and understanding what everyone’s saying all the time.”
Hall is one of several reserves expected to be thrust into key roles tonight, because both clubs played Saturday.
“We talked about at the beginning of the year – bringing home trophies – and this is one of the competitions that we’re in,” Hall said. “We’re in it to win it. We’ve never won the Open Cup. It’s a trophy that’s been elusive for the team, and I’m getting the feeling that it’s kind of annoying for the guys who have been on the team.”
The winner advances to the Open Cup championship game, either Sept. 1 or 2, against the winner of the D.C. United-Rochester game today in Boyds, Md.
HOUSTON DYNAMO VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
7 p.m., Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila
What: This is a semifinal of the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest soccer tournament in the United States. The winner will meet today’s D.C. United-Rochester winner for the championship in September. If D.C. advances, it will host the title game. If Rochester wins, the USL-1 team will visit the MLS team.
Head to head: Seattle beat the Dynamo, 2-1, in MLS play July 11 at Qwest Field.
Coach Sigi Schmid scouting report: “Houston is a good team mainly because they have been through a lot of battles together. They are definitely a battle-tested team, and they have reliance and faith in each other in these big games because they have been in a lot of big games as a group.”
Note: Houston (9-4-5; 32 pts.) is MLS regular-season points leader, Seattle (7-3-7, 28) is tied for second. … If the game is tied at the end of regulation, a 30-minute overtime will be played. If the tie remains, penalty kicks will decide it. … The game is sold out.
Next: Seattle resumes league play at noon Saturday vs. Chicago at Qwest Field.
Don Ruiz. The News Tribune