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MLS Game o' the Week: Seattle Sounders v. Houston Dynamo

After showing up at the bar promptly at 8:00 pm to watch Sporting Kansas City (and my beloved Graham Zusi) vs. Vancouver, I was informed that the game wasn't nationally televised. Anyway, I stayed to watch the MLS Game of the Week:  Seattle Sounders (complete with Clint Dempsey) vs. the Houston Dynamo.

Seattle ended up getting the 2-0 win but in pretty un-convincing fashion; a shot from Marco Pappa in the 69th minute deflected off a Houston defender into the goal, and a 75' minute penalty kick goal from Gonzalo Pineda. I say "un-convincing" because, even though Seattle seemed to out-shoot Houston, the game was a lot closer than the score suggests and, in fact, I was more impressed Houston's play than Seattle's.

Houston midfielder Brad Davis was particularly impressive. He just seemed to have a way of moving the ball forward and making chances for the strikers; virtually every time he got the ball, you knew something good was going to happen. Unfortunately, that did not materialize into goals; Houston had at least a dozen quality shots, though apparently only three of them on goal (memory doesn't serve correctly; seemed like they had at least that many on-target head-shots, but IDFK).

The Dynamo also demonstrated some impressive passing through the midfield; long, quick passes that were able to turn the tables quickly on Seattle and catch them on their heels. Again, not quite good enough, but strong passing and a deep midfield are two critical aspects a winning side needs to have. The connection up the right side between defender Kofi Sarkodie and midfielder Boniek GarcĂ­a seemed to create a lot of good runs, as well.

Let us not, either gloss over the quality play of Seattle's Clint Dempsey and Houston's DeMarcus Beasley, USMNT members. Just like with the "Zusi Effect" I noted in an earlier blog post, watching these players in the MLS instead of the World Cup makes me realize just how good they are. Somehow, mixed in with all the other World Cup level players, it wasn't easy to see, but after watching Dempsey dribble circles around Houston defenders, it's clear why people make such a big deal over him. Same with Beasley; while I don't think he had a stand-out game last night, it's easy to see that's he's one of the pivot points around which the fate of the Houston team swings.

My Takeaway: Easily the best game I've watched since the World Cup; fast pace, quality passing, lots of shots, even if the result (IMHO) was far more inconclusive than the score suggests. I like the Houston squad a lot more than Seattle; they play exciting ball and seem to have a real "team," though something seemed missing last night: execution. Sadly, above all, that's what it takes to win games.

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