The Houston Dynamo returned to league play following a brief break for opening games in the Group Stage of the World Cup. The Dynamo did have a game this past Monday for the US Open Cup which saw the Dynamo come out on top against Minnesota United FC. This time Houston faced off against a familiar foe in Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park where unfortunately things didn’t go things Houston’s way as they were defeated 2-3 despite holding a 2-0 leading through the first half and a stretch of the second.
Houston would get off to a dream start as the reigning Defender of the Year Ike Opara made a big mistake and gave the ball away in the back. Tomás Martínez was first to it and played his first touch to Mauro Manotas who easily beat Tim Melia, the reigning Goalkeeper of the Year, which made it 1-0 to Houston in just the 2nd minute.
Sporting Kansas City would try to respond with a golden opportunity of their own. Gerso Fernandes curled in a perfect pass to the rushing Roger Espinoza who had run right in front of goal. Fortunately for Houston he wasn’t able to control the ball well and his shot went over the top.
In the 10th minute Alberth Elis nearly connected with Romell Quioto to make it 2-0. Elis’s speed was too much for a SKC back line which had tried to play the offside trap. Elis got loose on the right side and he tried to pick out an open Quioto, but Opara was able to make up for his previous mistake with a great header clearing the ball from danger.
The two sides had played very quickly over the next few minutes with Houston controlling the ball a bit better as they found space easily moving the ball from side to side utilizing their players out wide. In the 26th minute Manotas nearly doubled his goal tally as he got free on a long pass from deep in the Dynamo half. As he closed in on goal, his shot wasn’t on frame keeping the score 1-0.
Elis nearly found the net himself in the 42nd minute. Tomás Martínez sent an inch perfect through ball to Elis who got free down the right side of the field. His run took him into the 18 yard box and instead of going to his right he cut to his left. His shot was blocked, but if he had elected to pass there may have been a goal there.
The Dynamo would get their second goal before halftime thanks to Manotas who got his second of the game. After winning the ball in midfield the ball fell to Quioto. He got his head up and played a through pass to a rushing DaMarcus Beasley. Beasley was met by goalkeeper Tim Melia, but squared a ball across the box for Manotas to tap into the net. The play was very unselfish of the Dynamo captain who also had the instinct to push up the field in a hurry when he saw his team win possession.
The halftime whistle would blow with Houston carrying a 2-0 lead at Children’s Mercy Park. The Dynamo had been largely in control of the game thanks to their quick passing which opened up runs on the wings for Quioto and Elis while Tomás Martínez and Oscar Boniek García did well to win balls in the midfield. Sporting Kansas City had chances of their own often coming off the counter attack, but the Dynamo defense was alert and capable of absorbing these opportunities.
Sporting Kansas City didn’t come out very aggressive to start the second half, but there would be some early chances that were saved by Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis. In the 54th minute Jaylin Lindsey sent in a cross that found Roger Espinoza who headed the ball down and it nearly bounced in if it weren’t for a diving Willis.
The home team would get a goal back as the Dynamo just couldn’t get the ball clear from danger. After a big save by Willis again, the ball stayed in the box and was eventually put in by Dániel Sallói to make it 2-1. After a relatively slow start for SKC, they had picked up momentum leading up to the goal and had started getting their chances.
Salloi pulls one back for SKC 2-1 Houston now. pic.twitter.com/qYYZIw0umD— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) June 24, 2018
As the second half continued, Houston struggled at doing what it did so well in the first half: moving the ball accurately through midfield using its wide players. Poor turnovers and a lack of possession in SKC’s half led to plenty of chances for the home side.
Manotas was close to getting his hat-trick before the 80th minute. Elis did well to get free and played a through ball to Manotas. Tim Melia closed Manotas down and was able to deny the Colombian a third goal.
SKC equalized the game in the 85th minute. Wilmer Cabrera had taken Alberth Elis off for Leonardo to play a 5 man back line hoping to bunker down and defend their lead. Diego Rubio, who was just subbed on, was able to level it up late.
Rubio comes on and scores a late equalizer for SKC! 2-2! pic.twitter.com/9vaCHrNBy3— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) June 24, 2018
Things would go from bad to worse for Houston as a poor challenge by Eric Alexander in midfield saw him shown his second yellow card putting Houston down to 10 men. SKC would capitalize on the man advantage with Khiry Shelton getting on the board making it 2-3 in their favor.
Shelton give SKC the lead! 3-2! Quite a comeback! pic.twitter.com/crvkuVnaSG— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) June 24, 2018
The game would end 2-3 to SKC who managed the final minutes after getting the winner well by keeping Houston off the ball. Overall, the result highlights one of Houston’s problems and that’s managing games with the lead. Wilmer’s decision to take off Quioto early and then Elis for Leonardo were tactical miscalculations. The team had played very well in the first half by moving the ball quickly through the midfield, but in the second half Eric Alexander and Boniek sat deeper which made the quick passing harder to do. That created a gap between our forwards and defenders/defensive mids and SKC exploited that space to win the ball and quickly attack.
The Dynamo next have their annual Dynamo Charities Cup next Friday, June 29th against Monterrey and their next league match will be the following Tuesday, July 3rd, against LAFC at BBVA Compass Stadium at 8 PM.
2’ HOU: Mauro Manotas (assisted by Tomás Martínez)
45’ HOU: Mauro Manotas (assisted by DaMarcus Beasley, Romell Quioto)
59’ SKC: Dániel Sallói (assisted by Johnny Russell)
85’ SKC: Diego Rubio (assisted by Dániel Sallói, Johnny Russell)
88’ SKC: Khiry Shelton (assisted by Dániel Sallói, Diego Rubio)
22’ HOU: Eric Alexander (yellow card)
27’ SKC: Roger Espinoza (yellow card)
55’ HOU: Joe Willis (yellow card)
87’ HOU: Eric Alexander (second yellow card/red card)
90’+2’ HOU: Alejandro Fuenmayor (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Joe Willis; DaMarcus Beasley, Philippe Senderos, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Adam Lundqvist; Eric Alexander, Tomás Martínez, Oscar Boniek García; Romell Quioto (73’ Luis Gil), Mauro Manotas (90’+1’ Memo Rodríguez), Alberth Elis (81’ Leonardo)
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi; Yohan Croizet (85’ Diego Rubio), Ilie Sánchez, Roger Espinoza; Gerso Fernandes (76’ Khiry Shelton), Dániel Sallói, Johnny Russell