For the first hour of the Texas Derby, the Houston Dynamo felt they were the better team. A calamitous 10 minutes later and they were on the wrong end of an emotionally draining 4-1 defeat.
Making matters worse was that for the second week in a row the Dynamo's mistakes led to the loss.
After a penalty kick cost them a point in Vancouver a week ago, Houston gave up another in the first half and then David Horst was shown a red card to put the club down a man with 30 minutes to go. Ten minutes and three goals later, they were left with another rough loss and found themselves looking in the mirror once again.
“Right now, I think we’re our own worst enemy,” said forward Will Bruin. “It’s not like an unlucky roll of the ball or something, it’s stuff we’re hurting ourselves with right now. ... Looking at this year, I don’t think any team that’s beaten us is better than us. We’re playing good stuff and kind of let them off the hook a little bit. It’s just something you learn from.”
The red card and penalty kick stand out. Ricardo Clark was penalized for a foul from behind on Mauro Díaz in the box in the 30th minute, which led to Michel's opener from the spot a minute later.
In the second half, Horst saw red for a tackle that was deemed by referee Ricardo Salazar to be worthy of an ejection. To make matters worse, just seconds later, FC Dallas took advantage through Je-Vaughn Watson's first goal of the game and never looked back. The turn of events happened moments after Houston took three shots on Dallas’ goal and appeared poised to take the lead themselves.
“I thought we played well and obviously the red card and the goals are a bit of double sucker punch,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I thought we were really good for those 60 minutes and, obviously, the red card and the one-man advantage really worked in their favor, so they took advantage of the situation while we walked off of the field very disappointed.”
While the circumstances of the penalty and red card hurt, there are other factors at play that Houston will have to address.
Like the penalty, set pieces were a thorn in Houston’s side for the second match in a row they were caught out twice on set pieces. First, on a quick restart, with Kinnear admitting he wanted to sub on the tall AJ Cochran immediately after the ejection, and then again on the third goal, where forward Giles Barnes headed into his own net.
“I’ve got to be switched on, I’ve got to be organizing and be aware of quick free kicks,” Barnes said. “We’re still organizing and we feel they’ve taken a bit of a quick free kick. It’s two set pieces and it’s a tough one to swallow.
“As a team we know we can get rid of these mistakes,” Barnes continued. “Mistakes happen. One week you’re up, the next week you’re down. That’s part of the game.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.