As if a Major League Soccer match could tell a story further from its eventual result.
Chad Marshall's empty-netted score in the 94th minute on Sunday brought the Seattle Sounders even with the Houston Dynamo at 1-1, just beating the final whistle to help Seattle escape with a crucial away point.
The score negated an action-packed match that sold the tale of a shootout in Houston's favor, not of a one-all draw.
Giles Barnes' right-footed flick in the 35th minute had finally put the Dynamo up 1-0 on an out-of-sorts Sounders back line supported solely by the hardly-human efforts of Stefan Frei in goal, and Houston poured it on for the majority of the match.
Seattle had virtually no presence in the attacking 18-yard box for the game's first 75 minutes, but newly-acquired sub Herculez Gomez sparked a vicious surge for the equalizer on the Sounders' behalf. Seattle missed out by inches on numerous goals before finally capitalizing in the final minute of stoppage time, besting the attempted clean sheet from Joe Willis to end the game on Marshall's unmissable finish.
Houston's Early Dominance
From the get-go it was the Dynamo maintaining possession among their front line and midfield with a certain vibrant passion, and they pressured the Sounders both with shots at Frei's net and highly-active defending in Seattle's half.
An 11th-minute miscue for Seattle in the passing game led to a promising chance for Houston's Will Bruin, and Bruin fired a lined shot at Frei from the top of the box, but the Swiss keeper with right there to make the catch-save.
The Dynamo noticed early-on that the Sounders' defensemen were not locking on tightly to attackers, and Jalil Anibaba nearly exploited this weakness in the 24th. The former-Seattle defender found himself wide-open at the top-right corner of the penalty area, and he let loose a near-post laser Frei was quick to reach without error. Had he been a single step late, it would have already been 1-0 Dynamo.
Seattle, while not getting direct chances from play inside the box, saw their first prime chance in the 33rd minute, as Clint Dempsey lined up for a free kick directly outside the box. He smashed a wicked blast towards the upper-right portion of the goal, but the attempt curled inches past Willis' right post and out for a goal kick.
Dynamo 1-0 Sounders
Houston's goal finally came in the 35th minute, as a quick Anibaba throw-in caught Seattle off-guard. Anibaba swiftly received his ball back and whipped in a low cross for Barnes, who found himself in acres of free space on the right-hand side of the Sounders' box and did not even take an extra touch in lightly whisking the ball into the inner-left side netting with a lob.
The Dynamo found themselves with multiple other close opportunities around goal but were unable to bypass Frei again in the first 45, and the score remained 1-0 going into the half time interval.
Seattle Recovers in Second Half to Draw at Last Possible Moment
Whatever Sigi Schmid told his team in the locker room stirred up the Sounders, who slowly but surely cruised into an attacking role for most of the second half. Aaron Kovar had a powerful strike in the 50th minute as a result of great Seattle transition play, but his left-footed drive was saved bottom-right by Willis.
Regardless, the defensive woes had not ceased for Seattle, and somehow Andrew Wenger squeezed through two defenders in the 68th minute to set up Boniek Garcia with a perfect, point-blank shot, which was somehow steered away by Frei.
Herculez Gomez came on for Jordan Morris in the 79th minute and his impact was made palpable immediately for the Sounders. Gomez twisted in a cross into a cutting Oalex Anderson, who was able to control the ball from the most part directly in front of net but couldn't apply a powerful enough finish to get the ball into the net after beating Willis.
Things got even tighter as the three minutes of stoppage time approached, and Clint Dempsey tried finagling his own way of getting Seattle their needed equalizer in the 92nd minute with a self-created strike with his left foot that was saved across goal.
When everything seemed completely lost for the Sounders as the referee held the whistle in his mouth, awaiting the moment to sound it for the final time of the afternoon, a last chance sprung off a ricocheted cross that fell to Anderson's feet on the left wing for one final shot at tying it.
Dynamo 1-1 Sounders
Anderson, who came on for Kovar in the 63rd minute, took a skillful touch past a trailing defender and fired a quick, low ball in front of goal, which caromed off the touch of Willis' outstretched arm and fell right to Marshall's feet. And the veteran MLS defender unmistakably slotted it home to save his Sounders a point on an otherwise depressing MLS Soccer Sunday for Seattle.