Sounders FC scored two goals Saturday: one hotly disputed, one nearly unprecedented.
Added up, they provided a 2-1 win over Major League Soccer-leading Houston Dynamo before a sellout crowd of 32,404 at Qwest Field.
“I feel pretty good,” acting coach Brian Schmetzer said. “No. 1, it was my first MLS head-coaching victory. And then to be down 1-0 to the top team in the league and to come back and show character certainly made it even more special.”
The disputed goal that drew the Sounders even was struck by Fredy Montero, and it left the Dynamo fuming.
The winner came on a bicycle kick by defender Patrick Ianni, and it left everyone amazed.
It was Ianni’s first goal for the Sounders, the second of his MLS career, and his first bicycle kick goal in, well, a long time.
Asked if he had ever scored on a bicycle kick before, Ianni answered “Since I was 6? No.”
The kick capped the team’s first come-from-behind victory, and doomed the Dynamo to its first loss – out of the dozen games – this season in when it scored first.
Houston remains atop the league standings (9-4-4, 31 points), but Seattle pulled within striking distance (7-3-7, 28).
The Dynamo opened the scoring by taking advantage of a defensive blunder in the 12th minute. Ianni failed to clear a ball in the penalty box, received no help from his teammates, and Brad Davis drilled it from 17 yards.
“I thought I had time to take it down and clear it, but Dominic Oduro did a good job of pouncing in front of me,” Ianni said. “From there they made a couple of passes, and Brad Davis is one of the best left foots in the league.”
Seattle came back in the 31st minute when Nate Jaqua, who came to the Sounders from Houston in the expansion draft, passed to Montero running toward the left post. Montero had trouble controlling of the ball, but his bobble seemed to draw Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstead out of position.
Montero finally gained control and sent the ball toward an apparently open goal, but defender Mike Chabala swooped in and cleared it out of the goal mouth. However, referee’s assistant Emiliano Monje signaled it had crossed the line.
“I know for a fact it wasn’t in, and I know for a fact that the linesman was out of position,” Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. “… I know he’s wrong, and I’m sure he’ll watch it and know he’s made a mistake, but it’s too late.”
There didn’t seem to be any smoking gun of proof in the replays shown during the telecast of the game. Montero said he didn’t have the angle to tell.
“Everything happened very quick,” he said through an interpreter. “My first reaction was just to raise my arm and go celebrate.”
The deciding goal came early in the second half when Freddie Ljungberg sent a cross into the box and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado headed it down toward the goal. When ball bounced just in front of the goal mouth, Ianni followed his instincts, launching himself upside down and knocking the ball backward past goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
“I had to just do what the game gave me,” Ianni said. “I obviously never practice that or anything, so you just kind of try to do your best to put it on frame, and fortunately it went in. I think we deserved it today, but it came in a not-so-conventional way.”
He might have understated it.
“(Bicycle-kick goals) are very rare; especially from Pat Ianni,” said Schmetzer, who assumed head-coaching duties for a day because coach Sigi Schmid was out of town attending his son’s wedding. “If you would have told me before the game that we were going to win the game on a bicycle kick and pick one of my players that was actually going to score the bicycle kick, Pat would have been like No. 9.”
The Sounders will see the Dynamo again July 21, meeting in Tukwila for a semifinal of the U.S. Open Cup. Before then, the Sounders play an international friendly against Chelsea of the English Premier League on Saturday at Qwest Field.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808