SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders survived a second half red card to pull out a 1-0 victory on Saturday night over the Houston Dynamo at CenturyLink Field, thanks to an exquisite tally from star forward Obafemi Martins.
The Nigerian Designated Player's 39th-minute strike, highlighted by a nifty spin move before the finish, was enough to offset the effect of a 56th-minute red card to midfielder Gonzalo Pineda for a high cleat on Ricardo Clark.
Neither side managed to generate a serious attempt on goal for the first 38 minutes, with the rhythm of the game stalled by two lengthy injury stoppages.
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei went down early after Clark stepped on his ankle while chasing a ball into the box that Frei got to a split-second earlier. Frei continued after some treatment, but Houston defender Raúl Rodríguez was forced to come off after a midair collision with Dynamo goalkepper Tyler Deric and Seattle forward Clint Dempsey that left the Spaniard with a gash on his head.
A giveaway in the midfield provided just the spark the game needed, though, as Lamar Neagle hit Dempsey with a backheel pass after a wayward ball from Clark. Dempsey in turn found the streaking Martins, who spun around Jermaine Taylor before applying the finish.
Seattle were dealt a blow early in the second half, though, as Pineda was issued a straight red by referee Ted Unkel after catching Clark in the stomach with a high boot. Unkel initially appeared to be going for a yellow card before showing Pineda the read, but the Sounders were nonetheless forced to play over a half-hour down a man.
The Sounders still managed to get a great look at doubling the lead in the 64th-minute after midfielder Osvaldo Alonso – playing in his first game of the season after recovering from a groin injury – made a hard run through the Houston defense to put an attempt on Deric, only for the Dynamo 'keeper to make a big fingertip save.
Seattle’s defense would hold strong as head coach Sigi Schmid eventually introduced a third center back and Houston never was able to capitalize on the one-man advantage. Martins came close to adding his second of the evening when he took on the Houston defense solo on the fast break in the 75th minute, only to put his shot over the bar after getting into prime shooting position.
Seattle (2-1-1) will hit the road next weekend to take on the LA Galaxy, while Houston (1-2-2) will head home for a date with the Montreal Impact.