Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time put a damper on an otherwise good defensive performance for the Houston Dynamo in their 1-0 U.S. Open Cup qualifying loss on Wednesday night.
“Say what you will, but for 90 minutes, I thought we played very well,” said veteran Eddie Robinson, who saw his first action of the year, putting in 86 minutes at center back. “We didn’t give up much, but we weren’t creating much.”
The Dynamo defense showed well throughout the night, stifling a dangerous Sporting Kansas City attack that included Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, and Designated Player Omar Bravo for 45 minutes.
[inline_node:333137]Seldom-used backup goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who picked up right where starter Tally Hall left off last week, put up a modest number in the official saves department, but he provided a crucial safety net for the Houston defense.
“Our goalkeepers have been really good for us lately,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “He made a couple of good saves in the first half. I kept whispering in Tim’s [Hanley, Dynamo goalkeeper coaches] ear that I like Tyler a lot.”
Although Houston’s back line was solid, its attack could not generate much offense. While the team created a number of chances, between Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg’s strong play and some missed opportunities, Houston was never able to crack the Sporting defense.
“When we got to the final third, I thought we were a little rushed with our crosses and decision,” said Kinnear. “We had our chances and, unfortunately, we were a little off.”
Despite a sound performance, the Dynamo leave College Station upset to have conceded the late winner in a match they felt was well within their reach. Houston now turns its attention to Sunday’s MLS contest against the Vancouver Whitecaps (6 p.m. CT, Buy Tickets). While fitness could be a factor, for the Dynamo, the quick turnaround is the best medicine for a defense whose single breakdown once again cost them the match.
“It’s a quick turnaround for us, which is good," said Robinson, "because when you lose a game like this, you want to get back on the field and get things right and get going in the right direction.”
Colin Clark makes Dynamo debut
After eight months of rehab, Colin Clark made his long-awaited debut Wednesday night. Going 76 minutes, the left-footed midfielder shared free kick and corner duties with Danny Cruz and helped the offense keep possession and generate chances throughout the night.
“Getting out there after 8 months off is a little bit of a shock, but it felt great,” Clark said. “No pain. I just have to improve on my first touch and getting into the game.”
Young guys make their mark
One positive Kinnear is taking out of the match is getting minutes for some younger players. Houston started four players 22 years old or younger, with a fifth coming off the bench. Alex Dixon, Kofi Sarkodie, Deric, and Will Bruin all made an impact on the match and drew praise for the Dynamo coach after the match.
“Some young guys got some good experience,” said Kinnear. “Tyler got a good game under his belt. Kofi Sarkodie and Alex Dixon got some experience in a big game, which is a positive I’m pulling from tonight.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.