The Houston Dynamo snatched defeat from the joys of victory on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Leading late in second half stoppage RSL’s Albert Rusnak scored a brace to post a 2-1 road win. The loss dropped the Dynamo ten points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 10 games to play.
“We didn’t play well,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera following the match. “We tried to prepare the whole week to be sure that we not only we play well, we needed to play well but we needed to get the three points, and we didn’t do any of the two. It wasn’t a good day for us. But the problem is that it’s not a good day for one or two, today was not a good day for all 11 players.”
In the early going, RSL holding down the final playoff berth played as if their playoff lives were on the line pushing the tempo from the opening whistle. In the 11th minute, RSL countered a Houston attack and nearly caught the Dynamo off guard. Jaoa Plata laid off a pass to Luis Silva on a 4 on 3 break and it was Silva’s delivery into the box that set Jefferson Savarino in behind the Dynamo defense. Willis, charging off his line, denied the young forward keeping the game scoreless.
Seven minutes later Alejandro Fuenmayor made acrobatic save following a Salt Lake corner. RSL retaining much of the possession (64.1 percent for the match) drew a foul against Darwin Ceren just outside the Houston box. The Dynamo wall blocked the free kick and Houston had survived another RSL opportunity.
In the 36th minute, Houston drew a foul against Real Salt Lake at nearly the exact same spot on the opposite end of the pitch. Romell Quioto’s free kick was blocked the RSL. The deflection came to Boniek Garcia and he banged home the volley and Houston led 1-0. It was the Honduran veteran’s 13th career MLS goal and his first since August 21, 2015.
“Honestly, I am very happy,” said a happy but disappointed Boniek Garcia. “It has been three years since the last time I scored and thankfully I was able to do it today. Granted, someone touched on the way in, but still, I am happy for it.”
Houston on the season held a record of 4-1-1 when leading at the half and were 6-3-2 when scoring the first goal of the match. It appeared that the soccer gods might be smiling on Houston. That is until second half stoppage time.
Rusnak came on in the 39th minute for Salt Lake’s injured Pablo Ruiz. The attacking midfielder banged one off the post in the 62nd minute before his heroic brace saved the day. In 90 plus 3, Rusnák faked a shot at the top of the penalty arc, took a couple steps to his left and ripped a left-footer off the far post and into the net leveling the match at one. Until that moment, Willis had withstood a barrage more fierce than Santa Ana’s against the Alamo. RSL with 25 shots on the night held a 2 to 1 advantage over Houston. Willis was able to stop seven of the nine on target attempts.
Houston had its opportunities to increase their lead before Rusnak’s heroics. In the 65th minute, Quioto put one over the crossbar from close range. A minute later, the Dynamo midfielder pulled another shot just wide and yet another would be hit right at RSL keeper Andrew Putna. The 23 year old forced into duty recorded two saves in his first MLS start.
With the game level at 1-1, Dynamo defender Damarcus Beasley was whistled for the a foul inside the box on RSL’s Bobo Saucedo. After a VAR review, the call stood and Rusnak converted the brace taking a loss and converting it to a win in the final seven minutes of play.
Houston (7-11-6) lost its fifth straight and are winless in their last seven.
“We needed these three points,” concluded Cabrera. “We needed to win today, and we haven’t been able to win in five games. This is my first time as a coach, even as a player, I never lost five games in a row in my life.”
The Dynamo return to action on Thursday August 23, 2018 as Western Conference leading FC Dallas comes to town. Kick-off is set for 8 PM.