Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders: Final score 3-1, Giles Barnes shines

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A surprisingly disorganized Sounders team fell to a highly motivated Dynamo squad 3-1, putting a damper on Clint Dempsey's first MLS start.

Clint Dempsey's first start in MLS didn't exactly go to plan. The Seattle Sounders' defense struggled against the Houston Dynamo away at BBVA Compass Field as they suffered a 3-1 loss.

Despite the hype surrounding Seattle's new main man, Houston was the team that came out with intensity. An early chance was laid at their feet as early as the 4th minute and Seattle was lucky not to concede. It continued for a few more minutes when the Dynamo made another cutting move to open up Brad Davis on the left flank, but Corey Ashe made a horrible leading pass that was closer to hitting a spectator behind the goal rather than Davis' legs.

The first 20 minutes were all Houston. It would have been frustrating for the Dynamo to not see payoff from that kind of dominance, but the 0-0 score didn't stay that way for long.

The hard work paid off in the 17th minute, when Brad Davis got in behind Michael Gspurning. After he slightly overran the ball, he managed to get off a pass at the endline just before the ball ran out of play. An open Giles Barnes sidestepped defenders and finished it perfectly to open the scoring.

Who cares about that goal though? There is another, better goal to talk about as (again) Barnes scored a surefire goal of the week candidate from just about a quarter of the way up the field. There isn't much of a sequence to speak of. Barnes took a wild shot from a quarter of the way up the pitch that somehow hit the top corner of the net. Gspurning did his best stretch, but it was a futile effort. That goal could not have been stopped.

Seattle really didn't do much of note through the 35th minute, though it did mildly improve for the rest of the half. Mauro Rosales did manage to waste a wonderful pass by Lamar Neagle in the 36th minute. Neagle came cut into the box from the left and placed a pass that was practically laser targeted onto Rosales' head. Rosales, about seven yards away from the box, somehow headed it wide. There were a few more chances that fell their way, the product of Dempsey and Neagle's work, but the close calls couldn't hide the fact that Seattle was second best for most of the half.

Houston took a comfortable two-goal lead into the break.

The second half kicked off and Seattle immediately looked an improved side. It pressed with much more urgency, and managed to finally hold sustained possession in the Houston half, though Rosales kept up with his unimpressive showing. Clint Dempsey showed why the Sounders paid him the big bucks and in the 53rd minute played through a backheel to Marc Burch, which Burch settled and struck just a tad too high to hit the net.

It continued this way past the 55th minute. One has to wonder what Sigi told his boys in the locker room, because the Sounders looked like a completely different team after the break. They were confident, played with swagger, took more calculated risks and generally controlled the tempo of the game.

That could have all been crushed in the 57th minute however, as a set piece from Brad Davis appeared to have gone in on goal. A fantastic ball from Davis found Jermaine Taylor, but Taylow had started his run too early and the offside flag went up. After that close call, which would have certainly crushed any hope for a Sounders comeback, the game settled into a more even-handed battle, and Brad Evans come on in the 62nd minute for Rosales. Rosales' uneventful night was over, and Houston began to reassert itself, with Will Bruin and Barnes both missing opportunities to extend the lead for the Dynamo.

The Dynamo would have to play the rest of the second half rather nervously, as in the 65th minute Shalrie Joseph scored off a set piece for Seattle, making the score 2-1. Burch took a free kick at a sharp angle to the right of the goal, and Joseph made a great run and used his massive frame to direct the header past Tally Hall and pulled one back for Seattle. Seattle's perseverance and organization had paid off, and just seconds later the Sounders earned another corner to keep things interesting, though nothing came of it.

The Sounders cranked up the intensity and for 10 minutes they continuously assaulted the Dynamo's goal, and they looked quite likely to equalize.

In the 74th minute, the Dynamo extended their lead to 3-1 thanks to Will Bruin. Brad Davis attempted to head in a goal that eventually ended up with Warren Creavalle, whose shot dramatically struck the crossbar. The rebound eventually fell to Bruin who put it away.

That goal reinvigorated Houston, while Seattle looked demoralized. An injury to Djimi Traore only added to the insult that was the Dynamo's crushing of the Sounders. Neagle barely missed out on a goal that would have come from a beautiful backheel, but it hit the post and went right into Tally Hall's hands.

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