The Houston Dynamo hoped to follow up their 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake in the 2022 season opener with a positive result in their first trip away from PNC Stadium as they headed to Children’s Mercy Park to face Sporting Kansas City. Despite a promising effort on the defensive side of the ball, the offense again took a backseat and this time on the road, Kansas City capitalized on an opportunity to come up with a 1-0 win.
Both sides began the match with a lot of energy and with that came high pressing. Johnny Russell found some space towards the end line on SKC’s right wing. He tried to cross the ball in, but had his effort blocked by a sliding Adam Lundkvist resulting in a corner kick just two minutes into the game. The following corner had Dynamo goalkeeper Steve Clark punch the ball out, but after it bounced around it was eventually shot right at Clark who slowed things down by going to ground to give his defenders a chance to set up again and catch their breath.
Around the 10th minute or so the Dynamo having weathered the initial pressure by the home side began to find a bit of their own possession usually coming from the back which led to some chances that weren’t capitalized on. Often the Dynamo tried to play long passes over the top to their forwards which included one to Corey Baird. That pass was headed back to SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia. Then an over the top ball to Sebastián Ferreira which if it wasn’t cleared away, the center forward would’ve been 1v1 on goal.
Kansas City largely dominated the early possession numbers with Houston sitting deep to defend and content to counter. Kansas struggled to really test the Dynamo backline and goalkeeper the first 30 minutes in with Houston clogging passing channels at the expense of creating much offense. The Dynamo did get a good opportunity on goal around the 22nd minute. After some good build up play out of the back it saw Corey Baird try his luck from distance even though he had a runner to his left. The effort was deflected and Memo Rodríguez and Ferreira could’ve been in on goal, but Memo fouled a defender resulting in a free kick for the home side.
The two sides would go into halftime locked at 0-0. Sporting Kansas City controlled the vast majority of possession, about 70% vs. 30% which led to them often keeping the Dynamo back in their own half. However, despite the possession advantage, Houston did well to clog passing channels which made it so that SKC never had quality opportunities to score with only 6 shots, 1 of which was on target which is poor for a home side with such a possession edge. Houston on the other hand had even fewer chances on goal as their tactic seemed to disrupt SKC’s offense and rely on the counter attack.
The second half began with more of the same, but SKC had an early chance before the 50th minute. Some good 1-2 passing by the home side put Dániel Sallói on goal from a tight angle. Sallói tried to bend the ball around Steve Clark, but the effort went wide.
The Dynamo got their first corner in the 56th minute following an excellent counter attack led by Adam Lundkvist and Fafà Picault. The corner, that was played short, found Tim Parker back post, but it was cleared from danger.
Houston had another quality chance, again from the counter this time led by Memo. Memo took his touches into the box trying to open up a shot for himself, but he played the ball off. After the ball clinked around it looked like the Dynamo had two players in a good position but Melia was quick and it appeared the two Dynamo players were in offside position anyways.
Not long afterwards the home side would get the game’s opening goal. Johnny Russell had a good run down the right side of the field and played the ball across towards Dániel Sallói. Sallói ripped a shot, but it was deflected back to Rémi Walter who fired a shot without taking a touch into the net. 1-0 SKC.
Paulo Nagamura made a couple of attacking minded changes following Kansas City’s goal by bringing on Darwin Quintero and Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla. After bringing them on, they saw more link up play higher up the field rather than simply relying on the counter attack.
Houston almost got the equalizer in the 78th minute thanks to Quintero capitalizing on a poor ball out of the back by Tim Melia. Quintero opted for the chip with Melia out of position, but his attempt went just wide in what was the best opportunity to score for the Dynamo.
Tyler Pasher tried his luck in the 82nd minute, but his effort was right at the goalkeeper. Following a set piece opportunity, the ball was cleared and found its way to the substitute out wide. Pasher cut inside and tried his luck from just outside the 18 yard box, but was unable to get the equalizer.
After 90 minutes plus stoppage the final whistle would blow and the Dynamo will fall 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. It wasn’t a poor showing. Despite a relatively conservative starting lineup and tactics for much of the game, they frustrated SKC’s ability to create quality chances. After what could be considered an unlucky goal for SKC given the placement of the deflection, the Dynamo attempted to ramp up their offense which increased their possession and chances, but were unable to put themselves back in the game.
The Dynamo are back in Houston for their next fixture when the Vancouver Whitecaps come to town on March 12th at 5:30 PM CT.
60’ SKC: Rémi Walter
55’ HOU: Darwin Cerén (yellow card)
83’ SKC: Roger Espinoza (yellow card)
86’ HOU: Darwin Quintero (yellow card)
90’+2’ HOU: Matías Vera (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Steve Clark; Adam Lundkvist, Daniel Steres, Tim Parker, Zarek Valentin (86’ Zeca); Memo Rodríguez (66’ Darwin Quintero), Darwin Cerén (66’ Adalberto Carrasquilla), Matías Vera; Corey Baird (76’ Tyler Pasher), Sebastián Ferreira (76’ Thor Úlfarsson), Fafà Picault
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Logan Ndenbe, Andreu Fontàs, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Graham Zusi; Roger Espinoza, Felipe Hernández (82’ Cameron Duke), Rémi Walter; Dániel Sallói, Khiry Shelton (77’ Marinos Tzionis), Johnny Russell