The Houston Dynamo looked poised to break through. At home in front of their fans, needing a result against Sporting Kansas City – the team just four points ahead of them – Houston came out of the gates flying, notching three shots on frame in the first seven minutes.
It looked as if the night would belong to them, but KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen did not have the same playbook. The Danish ‘keeper kept Houston out of the net, including two stops on Will Bruin in that opening stretch.
That was a trend that would continue on the night for Dynamo. Houston pushed and created but Nielsen kept them from a goal and forced them to settle for a point when the full three were there for the taking.
“I thought it was a good game all around for us,” said captain Brad Davis. “We kept another clean sheet against another difficult team, which is always a good thing. We felt like we deserved three points.”
Houston outshot KC 12-4, putting five shots on frame, all of which Nielsen found a way, by foot or by fingernail, to keep out of the net. And when it wasn’t Nielsen, Dynamo nemesis Aurelien Collin rejected Brad Davis with a headed ball off the line to end the first half.
Those chances came as Houston were in control of the game, holding 60 percent of the possession, to go along with their shots.
At the center of those opportunities was Bruin. The forward came inches away from scoring on several occasions, drew the free kick that Davis nearly potted, and set up Andrew Driver on the back post with a fantastic bit of vision late in the second half.
“His ball to Andrew Driver was just inches away,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “[Bruin] makes great run and a lot of people in the media and others were questioning him. Got to give credit to Jimmy Nielsen, he made some good saves.”
“I was putting them on frame and in the corners,” Bruin said. “He was just making good saves. Some lucky toe saves. It is what it is. Sometimes you score that you wonder how they go in, and then sometimes you get robbed on good saves.”
After all the work Houston walked away with a point and failed to close the gap on KC. They did widen the gap on the Montreal Impact, who are two points back – but have two games in hand.
What Houston will do now is look on the bright side. The team kept a clean sheet, created chances and matched KC’s intensity. All that was missing was a win.
“Sometimes you’re just unlucky,” said right back Kofi Sarkodie. “We’re playing well and doing the right things. That’s what matters. That’s a good thing going forward towards the playoffs.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.