HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 06: Colin Clark #7 of Houston Dynamo connects on a penalty kick against the Real Salt Lake at BBVA Compass Stadium in the second half on September 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
So, that match really happened. I had thought there might be some wild chance it was all just a very odd dream, or perhaps a nightmare. After all, we were subjected to the horrors of MLS scheduling which provided an absolutely drained roster for the Houston Dynamo thanks to International Call-Ups and some kind of flu-like virus making it's rounds amongst the teams in the MIDDLE of the bloody week. I digress...there is no use in harping on the same topic which has been dead and buried for eons. Nor would it accomplish anything to complain about just how bad the officiating in MLS has become.
Yet, I find myself drawn to enter an extremely over the top diatribe about the joke of MLS officiating. No, wait, as Ginge said on Twitter, the officiating has become so bad, it cannot even be qualified as a joke any longer. It is now becoming a disgrace to the league and to CONCACAF. Really, though, this should not come as any sort of surprise to anyone. We've witnessed the horrors of MLS officiating and how of quality of officiating has on many, MANY occasions become the sole focal point of attention...and yet I am drawn evermore into the loving embrace of pain that is MLS officiating bashing.
It's not that I am bitter. I certainly can't be bitter with the final result. We did, after all, win on a penalty kick in the waning moments of stoppage time. It was a very fair penalty kick call, and indeed the second such call in the match. Perhaps the first was a bit harsh from the official, but the second was entirely justifiable. I sincerely doubt any TRUE fan of the game, even if they bleed that horrid color which I can only describe as RSL red-brown, would argue the validity of the call. Nay, the very necessity of the call.
While I would not go so far as to say had Rimando not been as aggressive as he was RSL would have most assuredly been down a goal, I would say he was also justified in being as aggressive as he was on the play. Up until then, while the Dynamo had created a couple of very nice opportunities, they could not convert. The closest moments came when Will Bruin's head found a beautiful cross in from His Royal Highness (note: not Heiness, because he is not a lady), Kofi Sarkodie.
The play itself was actually quite beautiful to watch. Kofi managed to burn his defender -- and badly I might add, to free himself just enough to send what can only be described as a near picture-perfect cross to the head of Will Bruin. Unfortunately, Nick Rimando, the man who should be given a gold medal just for his effort in goal for RSL last night, found himself in the right position and found a means to save the shot. It was an incredible sequence for both sides. Well, for Nick Rimando and the Dynamo. The rest of RSL looked clueless.
Still, this match came down to one play which will define it forever. The penalty kick call. The shot by Colin Clark. The goal by Colin Clark. The miss by Nick Rimando. The celebration which captured my heart anew for this team, these guys.
I will note I was elated to see Dixon see action on the pitch, even as a sub. He brought energy, even if he didn't bring a whole lot of possession or control. He did more for the Dynamo in his time than did Cam Weaver up until that point, however, Weaver, for all his attempts to get free, just couldn't. Though, don't harsh on him too much, because without Weaver we'd be in a very uncomfortable position going forward in the season toward the playoffs.
Ahh yes, the playoffs. The Dynamo with the win last night move into third place in the Eastern Conference. This is a hugely important position to be in, and should they fend off the surging Crew and Fire, they would avoid a single game playoff between themselves and whomever ends up in the other playoff position (either four or five). They must keep this up though and not waiver in their quest to hoist the MLS Cup once again.
They must maintain the drive and determination I saw in Ricardo Clark's eyes when he was commanding the midfield from the back line. That one image will be forever burned in my mind. It spoke volumes to me about the commitment of this one single player who just returned to the Dynamo. He's not here because it's easier. He's here because he bleeds orange.
I'm not sure if anyone else really saw that fire in him. The same fire which he displayed when he told Carlos Ruiz oh so many years ago to "Speak to the feet". The same fire which forced him out of a MLS Cup match with a suspension. That fire, man oh man, THAT FIRE. It was something else to see, and from a guy who comfortably dominated at Center Back when the team needed him to do so most? Simply perfect.
And so too was the ending to the night. A match which pitted two very equally matched teams, dealing with equally matched personnel missing. On a night which was hot and humid, yet comfortable enough for many fans to watch from the sweet arms of BBVA Compass Stadium, it was simply perfect. Ninety minutes of utter despair and failure. One minute of fire, determination and at last, victory. A night which we can all thank the stars...the Dynamo remained undefeated at home.
Oh and yes. Bald is indeed beautiful.