Ten-man Sporting Kansas City snapped their five-match winless streak and extended the Houston Dynamo’s own barren run by a 2-0 margin on Friday in the first meeting between the rivals since last November’s Eastern Conference final.
Like that occasion, this match went Sporting’s way -- even though they played for about 70 minutes with ten men on a warm night at BBVA Compass Stadium after the dismissal of Toni Dovale.
Both teams will welcome the upcoming World Cup break as a chance to rest, recuperate and regroup -- especially the struggling Dynamo, who have lost four successive MLS matches for the first time since 2010.
Each club was heavily depleted by injuries and World Cup call-ups, while Kansas City midfielder Oriol Rosell joined Portuguese club Sporting in midweek. But matches between these clubs are tight and hotly-contested whoever is in the lineup.
Sporting attacker Dovale was ejected in the 21st minute for an apparent off-the-ball elbow on Dynamo midfielder Alex López. Meanwhile, Paulo Nagamura was stretchered off after a fourth-minute challenge with defender AJ Cochran that left the Sporting midfielder with a concussion. Then Houston defender David Horst came off in the ninth minute with a left leg injury and was replaced by Eric Brunner, back from ankle surgery for his first MLS appearance of 2014.
Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear refreshed his starting XI after the team lost its past three matches without scoring. Most intriguingly, 25-year-old goalkeeper Tyler Deric came in for Tally Hall. Deric’s previous MLS appearance came against Colorado on October 27, 2012 – the last league match that Hall missed for the Dynamo.
For Sporting, Homegrown youngsters Kevin Ellis and Erik Palmer-Brown started at center back. Despite their inexperience, the pair were able to lock down Houston's attack. Lawrence Olum, back from international duty with Kenya, proved to be a key player in the midfield for SKC in disrupting the Dynamo, even with the man disadvantage.
Houston created few clear opportunities on the night, though a dipping López shot from distance was palmed over the bar by goalkeeper Eric Kronberg in the first half.
A superb defensive play denied the visitors the lead four minutes before the break. From a Dynamo giveaway, Dom Dwyer nodded the ball beyond the charging Deric and was set to nudge it over the line when Brunner lunged in with a last-gasp clearance.
The center back spoiled his good work in first-half stoppage time, miscontrolling on the edge of his box. The ball ultimately fell to Soony Saad, who coolly stroked his low shot into the far corner.
Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber was forced off at half time with a shoulder injury, but Sporting stayed resolute and capitalized on another Dynamo blunder to seal the win. Cochran handled in the penalty area and Dwyer converted the spot-kick in the 70th minute for his eleventh goal of the season, putting him level with New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS Golden Boot race.
Houston Dynamo (5-9-2; 17 points) vs. Sporting Kansas City (6-5-4; 22 points)
MLS regular season
June 6, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Sporting Kansas City: Soony Saad 1 (Benny Feilhaber 4) 45
Sporting Kansas City: Dom Dwyer 11 (penalty) 70
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst (Eric Brunner 9, Warren Creavalle 57), AJ Cochran, Jermaine Taylor; Servando Carrasco, Alexander López, Giles Barnes; Omar Cummings (Jason Johnson 68), Will Bruin, Andrew Driver
Unused substitutes: Tally Hall, Anthony Arena
Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg; Igor Julião (Jacob Peterson 46), Erik Palmer- Brown, Kevin Ellis, Seth Sinovic; Lawrence Olum, Paulo Nagamura (Alex Martinez 7), Benny Feilhaber (Sal Zizzo 46); Antonio Dovale (ejected), Dominic Dwyer, Soony Saad
Unused Substitutes: Andy Gruenebaum, Christian Duke, C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler
HOU: Alexander Lopez (caution) 21
SKC: Antonio Dovale (ejected) 21
HOU: Andrew Driver (caution) 29
HOU: Eric Brunner (caution) 45+2
HOU: Jermaine Taylor (caution) 79
HOU: Soony Saad (caution) 87
SKC: Eric Kronberg (caution) 90+4
Referee: Juan Guzman
Assistant Referees: Brian Dunn, Jonathan Johnson
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal