Houston’s Starting 11: Willis, Wenger, Fuenmayor, Senderos, Beasley(C), B. Garcia, Ceren, Quioto, Rodriguez, Martinez, Manotas
Houston’s Subs Used: Pena on for Quioto(71st minute), Machado on for Wenger(86th minute), Alvarez on for Tomas(88th minute)
RSL’s Starting 11: Putna, Lennon, Besler, Glad, Herrera, Sunny, Ruiz, Savarino, Kreilach(C), Plata, Silva
RSL’s Subs Used: Rusnak on for Ruiz(39th minute), Baird on for Silva(68th minute), Saucedo on for Plata(79th minute)
From the start of the match, neither team was playing clean soccer. The Dynamo struggled the most though in the early goings. Missed passes, miscommunication on who was supposed to go for a loose ball, letting multiple passes slip past them. Willis got to make his first save of the match in the 11th minute after a sloppy first touch by Ceren gave the ball away mid counter attack. Houston did get a chance in the 16th minute when a corner fell to Fuenmayor who just couldn’t connect on the ball. RSL then followed this failure to finish by putting together a counterattack that was as smooth as it was short. This was RSL’s bread and butter during the match, though they didn’t get a goal on the counter all match. But, good as RSL was at putting together counters, the finishing needed work. They took 13 shots in the first
half, with only four being on target.
RSL was awarded a free kick right outside the box in the 30th minute, and after lots of arguing from the Dynamo, RSL again failed to capitalize on the chance. Houston was quick to counter and in the 32nd minute, Quioto made a solid run down the field. Just outside of the box, he was taken down by Pablo Ruiz, who got a yellow card for the tackle. He also seemed to injure his right leg and would be subbed out for Rusnak just six minutes later. Quioto took a poor kick and nailed the wall, but Boniek Garcia recovered the ball and decided to take a crack at the goal, and through the chaos in the box his shot deflected off an RSL defender before bouncing into the goal.
After Garcia’s goal in the 36th, things got a little bit quieter. RSL took a couple more shots on goal, with one being on target. Houston’s defense had held up surprisingly well, though a lot of credit has to go for Joe Willis.
HOU 1 RSL 0
Things were really back and forth to start the second half. RSL came out on the attack, with Savarino trying hard to push forward on the left wing. Herrera was given a yellow card in the 58th minute. In the 65th, Quioto hits the ball off the crossbar set up by a beautiful cross from Manotas. A golden opportunity to tap the ball but the Quioto’s first touch was just too much. The Dynamo continued to challenge in the final third. Quioto even got another great chance on goal in the 67th. He linked up with Martinez who fed him a perfect pass into the box, then Quioto hits the ball almost right at Putna. Manotas made a great diagonal run into the half space on through ball from Garcia in the 72nd minute. He failed to finish, but credit to Putna on this shot for keeping squared and reacting quick.
At this point, both sides seemed to run out of ideas. Granted it was hot and humid enough for two hydration breaks, but neither team had done much to impress. The fact that there had only been one goal scored in this match, a goal that probably wouldn’t have gone in without a deflection, speaks to this match.
Things started to pick up again in the final minutes of extra time because RSL was desperate for points from this match. Salt Lake started playing aggressively, leading to a yellow card in the 86th to Kreilach, a yellow card in the 88th for Sunny, and a yellow card in the 90th for Savarino. Even when six minutes was called for added time, with that last yellow card the game felt more or less won for the Dynamo. But things are never that simple, and first half substitute Albert Rusnak complicated things. In the 93rd minute, Rusnak hit a ball from the top of the box that knocked the post and went in. A shot that Willis can’t be reasonably expected to save. Here’s the video of the shot. Personally, I think that’s a goal 99/100 times, maybe 100/100, even with David De Gea.
After this, well, the Dynamo unraveled. Houston couldn’t retain possession in midfield and had trouble keeping up with Salt Lake on the wings. But the nail in the coffin was heartbreaking. In the 97th minute, Saucedo cut into the box from the left wing. He redirected trying to shake Beasley and while trying to go for the ball he’s taken down. Seconds after Saucedo hits the ground, the first referee is pointing to the penalty area. This call was a hard one for me because there was definite contact but the replays show Beasley trying to get out of the way. Whether or not Saucedo goes down before the contact, it definitely looks like he initiated the contact. Either way, VAR was employed to confirm the call and the penalty stood. Rusnak took the penalty and struck the ball into the goal. Sealing the deal on the second straight game where the Dynamo drop points in extra time.
Final Score: HOU 1 RSL 2
Honestly, Houston didn’t really play well enough to complain about the loss. As much as I mentioned RSL’s failure to finish (it took 22 shots to score), Houston wasn’t much better. Manotas missed a solid chance, Quioto failed to capitalize on multiple chances. That was with RSL fielding their backup goalkeeper and a relatively inexperienced backline. One positive of this game was Fuenmayor, who played with a cool head for the whole game and made a lot of critical tackles. Willis also deserves a lot of credit for blocking and saving as many shots as he did.
Now, the Dynamo look forward to welcoming FC Dallas for the second time this season next Thursday.