It seemed an eternity. The final moments of the US Open Cup fourth round matchup between Houston Dynamo and Laredo Heat seemed to drag on and on for fans in the stands. I had the pleasure of sitting just above the Supporters Section, so I had a much more tactical viewpoint of the match.
The basics: Houston Dynamo defeat Laredo Heat. Alex Lopez had the game's lone goal on a chipped shot that Laredo Heat Goal Keeper couldn't quite reach. It was Lopez's first goal outside preseason play in 2014. Even if it wasn't a MLS goal, it was still a beauty and he deserves full credit for taking the shot as he did.
A few minutes before halftime, Laredo Heat defender (midfielder maybe?) Braem was sent off with a second yellow for a harsh challenge after having already been warned for reckless challenges by the ref. You'd think a MLS club up 1-0 against a 10 man USL PDL team would then go on to rout the opponent, but no, if anything, we struggled to generate chances after that.
Of course, the lack of chances became more unnerving when Tyler Deric handled the ball outside of the box and was shown a straight red card, placing the Dynamo and Heat at 10-men each. Following the red card, Tally Hall was subbed on for Omar Cummings, and honestly it was the best I'd seen Tally play in a long time. His challenges and command of his box were much more solid, and his saves were Tally Hall the Wall-esque.
Again this was a USL PDL team, and our boys could generate only a single goal. It was disheartening and sad. I watched multiple players try to take on USL PDL defenders and fail. There were multiple sequences where Laredo looked the better team, and that is a very scary proposition because while we were without Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis due to World Cup, we still had most of our starting midfielders and forwards on the pitch.
One thing I noticed from my new tactical perspective of this match is our wing players gave absolutely no help to our outside backs. With Creavalle playing one of the best games of his life at left back, it was okay but that lack of reaction to the counterattack has been on display for far, far too long.
But I digress. Let's bask in the glory of defeating a USL PDL team one to nil who had a legitimate shot to draw level, even after going down to ten men.