For a time Friday, MLS statisticians seemed to have done what two MLS teams haven’t been able to do this season: stop Sounders forward David Estrada from scoring.
In the 23rd minute of Seattle’s match against Houston, Estrada launched a shot from about 23 yards out.
It reached the back of the net, providing what would prove to be the only goal Seattle needed on its way to a 2-0 win before a crowd of 38,304 at CenturyLink Field.
However, a few minutes later, word came from the MLS statistical service that it would go into the books as an own-goal deflected off of Houston’s Geoff Cameron.
Finally, a few minutes before the final whistle, the MLS office decided the goal would be credited to Estrada after all.
With that ruling, Estrada moved to a league-leading four goals on the season, following his opening-day hat trick.
“I was a little bit bummed when I came in at halftime and I heard that it was an own goal,” Estrada said. “But thankfully they reviewed it and they gave it to me.”
Which ruling was correct?
“When I hit it, I thought it was on target,” he said. “Then I saw the replay, and I thought it was questionable. But they gave it to me.”
Regardless, the goal was the first allowed by the Dynamo (2-1-0), which had opened the season with back-to-back road shutout victories.
Less than four minutes later, Seattle doubled its lead after Cameron fouled Patrick Ianni in the penalty area.
Brad Evans took the penalty kick and sent it in, low and to the left of goalkeeper Tally Hall of Gig Harbor.
“It’s just confidence and stepping up, pick your spot and take it,” Evans said. “If the keeper saves it, it should be a good save if he saves it. (It takes a) little bit of confidence there in stepping in. It’s a chance to go 2-0 up and create a gap for us going into halftime.”
That proved to be more than enough as goalkeeper Michael Gspurning recorded his first MLS clean sheet.
And while Gspurning said he was happy to have a two-goal cushion in the middle of the first half, he didn’t want to dwell on that.
“It’s funny,” he said. “You have to be focused on every ball, so if you’re leading 4-0 or 5-0 you’re just as into the game. You don’t know what will happen. ... It’s good and it’s great, but always keep going through the last minute.”
Gspurning ended up making the two saves he had to make and lowered his goals-against average to 0.50 after two MLS games.
The Sounders moved to 2-0-0, and will conclude their season-opening three-game homestand a week from today against San Jose.
“Over the course of the season you have to win games different ways,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Today was a little more one of those games where you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and you’ve got to battle and persevere. I thought Houston played very well at times and had control of the game at certain times. But I thought we showed a very good resiliency.”
Seattle’s victory came despite projected starters missing on all three lines: Eddie Johnson (hip) at forward, Mauro Rosales (knee) at midfield, and Adam Johansson (hamstring) at right back.
Estrada was the obvious choice to retain his spot at forward. At midfield, Schmid went with Roger Levesque, and he started Zach Scott on the back line.
“Zach Scott we thought was a good choice at right back because he’s going to win those aerial duels and those battles, and I think he helped us defensively for sure,” Schmid said. “Roger is obviously never going to short you on work rate. We maybe weren’t as creative on the right hand-side as we are at times, for sure, but I thought both of the guys did what they needed to do in terms of the effort they put in.”
Seattle may have picked up another injury late Friday as Evans left the match in the 62nd minute with a hamstring issue.