A Gustav Svensson header and Will Bruin header gave the Seattle Sounders a crucial away victory over the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the MLS Cup Western Conference finals.
After Svensson sent a great header that put the Sounders up 1-0, things went from bad to worse for the Dynamo. Jalil Anibaba was pulled down Joevin Jones in the box. A penalty was given, and Anibaba was sent off. Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis saved the penalty, but Will Bruin was able to give Seattle a 2-0 lead just before halftime.
Seattle strikes twice
The home side got the first chance within the first minute as a corner found the head of Alberth Elis, but his header went above the bar.
Minutes later Seattle got their own chance from a corner. After their first try was headed out for another corner, the second attempt was placed perfectly in the bottom corner by Svensson and gave the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 lead.
A few chances from both teams filled a good portion of the half until the 27th minute when Joevin Jones was brought down in the box by Jalil Anibaba and a penalty was given. Anibaba was sent off, and Nicolas Lodeiro took the ensuing penalty. To the Dynamo’s joy, Joe Willis was able to push the penalty shot wide and keep it at 1-0.
Two minutes later Jones had a chance as he was played a lovely cross to his feet just a few yards outside the six-yard box. His shot, however, was poor and went well off target.
The Dynamo disaster got worse in the forty-second minute as Will Bruin rose high to put a header in the top left corner. It was 2-0, and it was not looking good for Houston.
So, the first half ended in a two-goal lead and a man advantage for Seattle. The Dynamo needed to climb a big mountain to even think about what they need to do in the second leg.
Dynamo can't break through
While it was a big mountain to climb, the Dynamo got a golden opportunity through Manotas as he was through on goal. His shot went wide, but the effort got the crowd back into the game.
In the seventy-eighth minute, Jones had another good chance that would’ve put the Sounders up 3-0 and essentially put Seattle back in the MLS Cup final. His effort would go wide, and that would be his last contribution to the game as Lamar Neagle came on to try and get the third goal.
A few minutes later Bruin found himself trying to grab his second goal, but his low effort was saved by Willis.
The Dynamo had a free-kick in the eighty-eighth minute, but it went agonizingly wide of the post. Things started to get chippy, and there was little time for Houston to pull one back.
In stoppage time the Sounders almost got their third goal. Victor Rodriguez tried to curl one in but it struck the post. The rebound went to the hometown hero Lamar Neagle, but his attempt went looping over the bar.
The second leg will take place next Thursday, November 30 at 10:30 P.M. EST. The Sounders will host at their CenturyLink Field and will have a two-goal advantage. Both teams will lose key players due to suspensions, but it is shaping up to be an entertaining match.