Recap: Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City 8/4
Dynamo Starting 11: Willis, Lundqvist, Fuenmayor, Wenger, Leonardo, Ceren, B. Garcia (C), Martinez, Elis, Quioto, Manotas
Dynamo Subs Used: Machado for Martinez (20th minute), Pena for Monatos (72nd minute)
Sporting KC Starting 11: Melia, Opara, Besler (C) Sinovic, Zusi, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Busio, Croizet, Fernandes, Salloi
Sporting KC Subs Used: Diego Rubio for Croizet (61st minute)
Wow. Just wow. This match was crazy in so many ways, and a total of 10 cards given out on all sides makes it a crazy game to recap. With Houston ending the game with only eight men, this was definitely some interesting, if somewhat cringy, tv.
The match started with SKC in firm control of the game, Fernandes just missed a goal in the second minute. Quioto got a yellow in the fourth minute, and this was the tone of the match. SKC kept the reins of the game too after Quioto’s yellow, playing lots of through balls when in possession. While fervently, almost reminiscently of Jurgen Klopp, pressing the Dynamo when on the ball. In the 14th minute, the Dynamo were taken to 10 men for the second straight home game when Fuenmayor was given a red card for colliding with Busio amounting to serious foul play.
There was no hesitation from the referee, and despite everyone standing around for two minutes, there was no review on the play. Elis was also yellow carded, for dissent, which makes him ineligible for the next league match. Funny enough, the Dynamo actually played better after being taken down to 10. SKC really struggled to deal with Houston’s tactical decision to abandon formation, opting for endless overlap instead. In the 18th minute, Willis made a difficult save look easy. Something he would continue to do for almost the whole match. B. Garcia was given a yellow card in the 20th minute, again for dissent. And by this point, the referees had completely lost control of the game. You could just tell that there would be more red cards before the 90 minutes were up.
Machado came on for Martinez in the 20th minute and generally filled the role of a deep defensive midfielder or a sweeper. In the 22nd minute, SKC got their first card, when Sinovic was given a yellow card for taking down Elis. Busio, starting today as the third youngest player to start an MLS League game, knocked the post in the 26th minute with a well-driven shot. Despite the impressive showing from the teenager, Houston looked like they still had a chance. Admittedly, SKC looked largely stale and often motionless around the ball. Sporting started to pick up more possessions around the 30th minute into the half, but it was weak. There just weren’t really any quality chances in the final third to exploit, though they did crack off two really good shots before the end of the first half. Quioto managed to get a shot off before the end of the half but it was ill-fated. Truly, the waning moments of the first half were defined by SKC and their ongoing battle to get a ball past Joe Willis.
This is where the game really started to get weird.
The Dynamo started the second half without Wilmer Cabrera, who was ejected due to “irresponsible behavior in the tunnel”. A phrase so vague that it has almost no meaning besides that he shouldn’t have done it. Despite this, Houston started the second half out strong. The Dynamo made a solid and beautifully set up run on goal in the 55th minute. In a move Quioto and Lundqvist would repeat many more times, Quioto popped a powerful backflip as a through ball up the side of the box for a charging Lundqvist to cross in. Elegant, yet striking, that is exactly the kind of soccer people love. Diego Rubio came on in the for Croizet 61st minute, SKC’s only substitution of the night. Quioto made an awesome run on a lofted through ball that he just didn’t have a final touch on it. Another Dynamo player, this time Joe Willis, gets a yellow card for dissent in the 70th minute. Pena came on for Monatas in the 72nd minute, making his first appearance for the Dynamo and serving as the as the Dynamo’s last sub. Pena had an immediate impact on the game, picking defenders pockets and looking strong on the ball. And this late in the game, Elis was still making the runs, despite playing in the MLS All-Star game and all the travel that entails. All of that solid play by the Dynamo, while down to 10 men, started to unravel soon though. In the 74th minute, Busio played a ball off perfectly for Rubio to slip the ball into the back of the net, far post. It turned out that the only substitute SKC used was a really good one.
SKC 1 HOU 0
Play went back and forth until Pena was given a yellow card after his first eight minutes of MLS action for unsporting behavior. And this was when the game went completely bananas. Players on both sides (but mostly the Dynamo) flopped quite a bit. Not to say that it hadn’t been happening all game but now it was blatant and the referee just lacked the control over the game that was necessary to stop the behavior. Ceren got a red card for violent behavior in the fourth minute of stoppage time. The eighth minute of stoppage time, after a VAR review, brought us Alberth Elis being given a red card presumably for violent conduct or provoking it but the listed reason is simply “review”. The 10th minute of stoppage time (yes there were 10 minutes of stoppage time) saw Leonardo get the final yellow card of the night, again for unsporting behavior.
This match was bad. So bad that MLS didn’t post the highlights on YouTube immediately after the game per usual. To be frank, there’s a good reason for MLS not to widely share this. Two straight home games the Dynamo have been given red cards when a yellow makes so much more sense. And with the speed that the card came out against Fuenmayor tonight, I’d be surprised if Chris Penso’s, the first referee, plan wasn’t to lay down the law quick. Beyond that, he succeeded in confusing players and media alike on decisions and what was happening, Which is not a goal to aspire to, and I’d argue it hurts the reputation of soccer in America. Despite the bad, you can’t help but appreciate the raw talent of a 16-year-old like Busio. Ronaldo Pena getting his first appearance was a nice addition and though there was little mention of him in the recap, Lundqvist deserves major credit for the score being so low. The Swedish left back blocked an inordinate amount of crosses while putting in solid offensive contributions.
The tired, and I’m sure incredibly frustrated, Dynamo get three days off before LAFC comes to town for the Semi-Finals of the U.S. Open Cup.