Even down to nine men, the Houston Dynamo looked like they could hold off Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night and hang on to a slim 1-0 win thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Tally Hall and a determined defensive effort.
It took a deflected strike from Aurelien Collin in the 90th minute to finally broke Houston’s resistance after a stellar night from Hall, who came within minutes of leading his club to an improbable three points.
“I thought Tally was excellent tonight,” Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear said. “He commanded his box well and came out and got some good [saves].”
But ultimately, red cards to Colin Clark and Brian Ching were too much for the Dynamo to overcome. Ching's was the back-breaker, leaving Houston with nine players after the Dynamo captain fouled Collin and was sent off by referee Kevin Stott.
“I apologize to [the team], because I made a bad decision and the team paid for it,” Ching said. “There were some tackles in the first half that were just as bad as some in the second half but were judged a little differently. But it wasn’t the right decision on my part, and the team suffered. I owe the team two points.”
Hall, who is in his first year as the regular starter for Houston, was credited with eight saves, duplicating his career high in MLS play, which was set against New York on April 2. But it was his command of the box and the back line that stood out during a stretch when the Dynamo were under extreme duress, with 24 shots fired by Sporting in the match.
“Tally started the season strong, but he had a mistake in the Colorado game and maybe lost a little confidence,” Ching said. “Over the past four or five games, there have been nights where he’s stood on his head for us.”
Despite the overwhelming feeling that the club dropped two points, the Dynamo are still looking at the positives of their performance.
“It was a tough situation that we walked away with a result from, but I feel we let two points get away, which is unlucky” Hall said. “To get a result tonight is a credit to how hard the guys worked and how they wanted it, which was good.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.