Roldan’s early strike lifts Sounders past Dynamo 1-0

SEATTLE (AP) — For the second straight week, Cristian Roldan proved his teammates wrong who have continued to give him grief for where he’s scored most of his goals.

Roldan is more than just a poacher. Give Seattle’s young talented midfielder a chance and he can score stunning goals from beyond the penalty area.

“It’s good banter within the locker room. Jordan (Morris), Chad (Marshall), a lot of guys told me I am a poacher,” Roldan said with a grin.

Roldan’s half-volley goal from 25 yards in the fifth minute lifted the Sounders to a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night in a meeting between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Roldan’s early strike was enough to give Seattle (6-1-4) its first victory since April 13 and bumped the Sounders into a tie with the L.A. Galaxy for second in the West, each with 22 points. Seattle had tied its previous three matches.

The goal was Roldan’s third of the season and was similar in quality to his goal last week against Minnesota United in Seattle’s 1-1 draw when he hit a shot from similar distance. This time, Roldan controlled a clearance from the penalty area with his chest, let it bounce then hit a dipping shot that dropped just under the crossbar.

Roldan said the goal against Minnesota gave him confidence to try the attempt against Houston.

“When I saw that ball in the air my first thought was, ‘I’m going to shoot this ball.’ … You feel pretty lucky and you feel that you’re on a roll now that you have two. Maybe next game I shoot two more shots. It gives me a lot of confidence,” Roldan said.

Houston (6-2-1) lost for just the second time all season and was shut out for the first time. The Dynamo entered the week as one of five teams in the league averaging more than two goals per game, but was held to just 11 total shots and only one on target. Houston had opportunities but Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas and Tommy McNamara all failed to get clear scoring chances on net. McNamara missed the target from 12 yards out in the 81st minute in what proved to be the final good scoring chance for the Dynamo.

Seattle posted its fourth shutout of the season.

Seattle allowed Houston to hang around by failing to capitalize on its chances to extend the lead following Roldan’s early goal. Nicolas Lodeiro had a first-half scoring attempt ricochet off the crossbar and Harry Shipp had Seattle’s best scoring chance in the opening minutes of the second half, only to see his curling shot tipped wide by Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis.

“They made it difficult for us. We rose to the occasion. I think 1-0 probably was a fair result,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.