Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of newly-formed Western Conference rivals will clash on Saturday when Seattle Sounders FC welcomes the Houston Dynamo to CenturyLink Field.
Seattle came into the season installed as one of the top favorites to reach MLS Cup from the West, but through three games, it's been far from smooth sailing.
The club opened the season with a comfortable 3-0 rout of New England on home soil, but followed it up with a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. Last time out the Sounders took a point in a scoreless draw against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium, despite playing with an extra man from the 18th minute.
The big moment came just 18 minutes into the contest when Kelyn Acosta was sent off by referee Kevin Stott for a high boot on Seattle's Andy Rose.
Seattle seemed to lack creativity in the final third, and the team's best chance in the second half came in the 55th minute when a cross from Leo Gonzalez made its way through the face of goal to Chad Barrett, who managed to miss the net with a header from close range.
Despite failing to put a single attempt on target, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"I'm pleased that we played to zero in the back," Schmid said. "A lot of people would think that with a one-man advantage, you should get more out of the game. But the way Dallas plays, playing a man down doesn't really impact their game because they play for free kicks and they play a lot of long passes through to [Fabian] Castillo. So having one less man doesn't really affect how they play."
"Overall, we're happy with the performance. We kept it to zero, which is the most important thing," added defender Brad Evans. "At the end of the day, we had chances to win, and that's the bottom line. A shutout on the road is always the objective. These past couple of years, we've been a very good road team. We look to build off this."
Houston, meanwhile, is also coming off a scoreless draw against the Colorado Rapids to move to 1-1-2 on the season.
Rapids midfielder Marcelo Sarvas was the most dangerous man in the first half for either side and he tested Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric with a powerful shot at the near post that the netminder did well to keep out.
The former Galaxy midfielder had an even better opportunity in the 31st when he was released in on goal by Gabriel Torres, only for Deric to produce a fantastic save by tipping his shot over the crossbar from point-blank range.
Torres set up Sam Cronin for a good look at goal in the second half that Cronin sent just wide of the post, but it was Houston that really pushed for a goal in the final 20 minutes.
However, it never arrived for the Dynamo and the club had to settle for its second straight draw.
"I think we had a lack of chances. We did well in possession, but it was more side-to-side possession," Dynamo forward Will Bruin said. "I don't think we went forward with enough conviction and a 0-0 result shows it."
"Are we disappointed not to win the game? Absolutely," Houston manager Owen Coyle said. "Every game at home we want to get those three points. But there is an awful lot to be pleased about."
Seattle has never lost to Houston. In five all-time meetings between the clubs the Sounders have won four, with one draw, outscoring Houston 9-2.