It was a rough 17th minute for Kofi Sarkodie. After the opening rounds of a sure-fire slugfest, the right back looked to unlock the game. He found his way behind the Sporting Kansas City backline, lined his shot and parked his shot in the far corner.
That is when he and his teammates had it taken away from them.
Seconds into his celebration, it was as if the goal never happened as Sarkodie was ruled offside. After the 0-0 draw in the Eastern Conference Championship first leg at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo lamented a tough call that, on replay, could have gone either way.
“That’s a close one, it’s really, really close,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear, who said he saw the replay at halftime. “In fast play the referee sees it one way, could he be onside, could he be off; it’s a bit of a coin flip. That’s the way it goes”.
Last year the Dynamo got out to an early lead, scoring in the 18th minute of the first leg of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal against Sporting when Adam Moffat rocketed in a goal from distance. Sarkodie’s strike would have come at nearly the exact same time. That game ended 2-0 in Houston’s favor and propelled them to the MLS Cup. This time, the close call kept the Dynamo and the game wanting for more.
“When I made the run I didn’t think it was off,” Sarkodie said. “That could’ve been the difference. The game opens up and they have to come at us and then that gives us opportunities to get another goal.”
“I played the ball so I didn’t get to see if a defender was behind Kofi,” said Omar Cummings. “Once you score early they have to open up and try and pull one back and space would eventually open up for us. We didn’t get it so we played on.”
In the end the goal will be relegated to the what-if category. Replay showed a play that was too-close-to-call. But it is one that could have unlocked the game and the series for Houston in a game that produced few good chances.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.