Last week, Tally Hall deflected much of the credit for his 11 shutouts this season to his teammates. But in Friday night’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City, he showed just how big of a factor he can be in a match.
The Houston Dynamo custodian recored a season-high seven saves, highlighting his outing with some Save of the Week candidates, especially his 33rd-minute reaction save on a snap header from C.J. Sapong.
His spectacular save on Sapong was just one example of his good night. A better representation was his knack for constantly being in position to make those saves.
“His positioning was very good and the guys defended in front of him pretty well so there was nothing really clear cut until the very end,” head coach Dominic Kinnear, who served a one-game suspension during the match, told MLSsoccer.com. “I thought he put himself in the right spots and it made it easier for him to put his hands on some things.”
Hall’s exemplary shift comes a week after he pulled out several big stops to preserve a career and franchise record 11th shutout. On a different night, his performance could have been standard setting.
“Thirty more seconds and we clear that ball one more time he’s got a shutout record for himself,” said Brad Davis, who put Houston ahead with a well-struck shot from distance. “You really want to be able to depend on your goalie to come up with some big saves and keep you in the game and the last couple of games he’s done that. I think he was huge for us again."
Midfield a battle ground
One crucial battle came in the center of the pitch, where both midfield trios battled all night to win possession and dictate the match. While the Dynamo struggled to gain a foothold early, Houston turned the tables some in the second half, going ahead on Davis’ 58th-minute goal and matching up toe-to-toe with SKC’s trio.
“We knew it was going to be a battle and after the first 15 minutes or so, we figured it out and did a good job of closing them down,” Davis said. “We knew it probably wasn’t going to be the prettiest game in midfield, but it was a battle. I think we matched their intensity and everyone worked hard.”
Barnes makes debut
Few players will be deputized in the same type of pressure situation that Giles Barnes was greeted with Friday night. Entering in the 81st minute with the club furiously holding off SKC, the young Englishman rewarded the coach’s trust by putting in a solid, yet brief, performance and flashing some of his skill on the ball.
“He’s shown pretty well in practice and it was a good opportunity to give him a chance to play,” Kinnear said. “I thought when he came on he did some good things.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.