Nigel Brooks

Playing shorthanded all too familiar

Playing at a disadvantage is something the Houston Dynamo are getting used to in 2011.

With Carlo Costly’s 64th-minute red card in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Dynamo have seen seven red cards in 2011 — something that has given them ample opportunity to get used to playing without a full lineup. Houston has been shorthanded in five separate matches this year, while the Dynamo have not played with a numerical advantage for even a minute (both opponents' red cards have come following the final whistle).

Though Houston has played well at times without their full complement — they earned ties against FC Dallas (May 28) and Sporting KC (July 16) while playing with 10 and nine men, respectively — that did not help on Saturday when they were down a goal and a man on the road while seeking an equalizer.

The Dynamo used a system that saw Corey Ashe and Hunter Freeman play advanced roles in a 3-5-1 when the club had the ball and drop back into a 5-3-1 when on defense. With the constant interchange on the flanks and commitment to seeking a goal, the lanes opened up for Sporting to add to its lead.

“We were down anyway, so we had to take some risks,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “We knew we we’re going to be vulnerable, and you kind of knew that they might get some chances and hopefully defensively we’d come up big, but they put their chances away.”

Unable to get the equalizer, the Dynamo talked after the game about needing a short memory in order to turn their full attention to the next task, which is a Wednesday-night meeting at the Eastern Conference co-leaders, the Columbus Crew (6:30 p.m., KHOU 11.2, KPRC 950, La Ranchera 850).

“We need to go there and look to pick up three points,” midfielder Brad Davis said. “We still have to keep plugging away.”

Camargo debuts, Bruin takes step
One player that fans had been waiting to see was Luiz Camargo, who made his first MLS appearance by playing the final nine minutes after coming on for Davis. The Brazilian got few chances to get on the ball and spent most of his time defending with his team a man down.

In addition to Camargo’s debut, Will Bruin was included in the 18-man roster for the first time since having knee surgery on Aug. 2, but he did not see action. Midfielder Danny Cruz is with the team but did not dress.

Ching leaves early
One unexpected early exit on Saturday was Brian Ching, who was replaced at halftime by Je-Vaughn Watson. After the game, head coach Dominic Kinnear said Ching would be evaluated by the medical staff, but the striker did train with the team in Columbus on Monday morning.

Travel blues
When trying to leave Kansas City on Sunday, the Dynamo encountered yet another travel delay in 2011, the result of which forced the team to travel straight to Columbus late Sunday evening in preparation for Wednesday’s match against the Crew.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.