Seattle Sounders FC and the Houston Dynamo didn’t settle anything Thursday, except that the two clubs don’t like each other much.
And also that Sounders fans don’t like Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad at all.
The clubs opened their two-game, aggregate-score MLS playoff series with a chippy scoreless draw Thursday at Qwest Field.
“You always want to win at home if it’s possible,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “But we don’t look at it as a missed opportunity. We look at it as, hey, we played the first half of this series and we didn’t get a goal. We’ve got to make sure we get the goals in the second half of the series.”
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Game Two will be played Nov. 8 in Houston, with the winner advancing. If that game is tied after regulation, 30 minutes of extra time will be played. If the deadlock remains, the series will be settled by penalty kicks.
And while the series opener lacked scoring, it didn’t lack for emotion.
The game was played before a crowd of 35,807. That’s the largest crowd to see the Sounders in an MLS game, the largest ever to see an MLS conference semifinal match and the seventh largest MLS playoff crowd in history.
They watched a game with several scoring chances. Seattle took 14 shots, and Houston nine.
Two of the best chances came from Seattle defender Patrick Ianni, who moved into the lineup when Tyrone Marshall became a late scratch with a knee ligament strain.
One Ianni headers was headed away at the goalmouth by Houston defender Brian Mullan, and another clanged off the crossbar just before halftime. In the second half, forward Fredy Montero faced Onstad one-on-one but sent his shot wide.
That would have been payback for an incident in the 16th minute, when Onstad knocked Montero to the turf. That started a lot of pushing and shoving.
Referee Ricardo Salazar eventually showed yellow cards to both Montero and Onstad. Sounders fans booed Onstad on every touch from then on.
On the pitch, different parties saw it different ways.
Montero: “I was looking at the ball, he got annoyed. He pushed me. I fell. It was a yellow card that I really didn’t expect. My intention was never to annoy him or anything. He simply pushed me with his shoulder.”
Onstad: “I think I was frustrated I didn’t get the call when I though Montero picked me. I just bumped his shoulder. If I had done that to Nate Jaqua, he probably just would have (brushed it off.) But Montero, we know he likes to embellish things, and down he went. I deserved the yellow for unnecessary contact, but I didn’t raise my hand to his face or anything like that. I was glad the referee actually looked at it and he felt Montero was trying to embellish it.”
Schmid: “My analogy was it was a bowling ball and a bowling pin, and the bowling ball got a yellow and the bowling pin got a yellow for getting knocked over.”
By the final whistle, six cautions had been issued.
These teams have met four times, with two Sounders wins and two draws. When they met for the first time in July, coach Dominic Kinnear complained about a Montero goal that he believed should have been disallowed. And when they met in a U.S. Open Cup match 10 days later, 10 cautions were issued.
The latest match only adds to the brewing rivalry, as will the high stakes of their next meeting.
“We see a lot of each other so there gets to be some chippy and intense battles,” Schmid said. “But I think it’s a good competition, a good rivalry, because they’ve been a dominant team in the Western Conference. … We’re the new kids on the block and we’re trying to have people take notice of us. They don’t want to give away any of their prestige, and we’re trying to take some of it. That makes it a good rivalry.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808
(Two matches, winner based on combined goals scored)
Thursday: Seattle 0, Houston 0
Nov. 8: Seattle at Houston, noon MLS PLAYOFFS
Houston vs. Seattle
Thursday: Seattle 0, Houston 0
Nov. 8: Seattle at Houston, noon
Los Angeles vs. Chivas USA
Sunday: Los Angeles at Chivas USA, 2 p.m.
Nov. 8: Chivas USA at Los Angeles, 4:30 p.m.
Columbus vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday: Columbus at Real Salt Lake, 3 p.m.
Nov. 5: Real Salt Lake at Columbus, 5 p.m.
Chicago vs. New England
Sunday: Chicago at New England, 11 a.m.
Nov. 7: New England at Chicago, 5:30 p.m.