Continuity on the field despite a change in goal is the target for the Dynamo this Saturday as they host the Montreal Impact knowing they will be without one of their stalwarts for the rest of the year.
Last Friday’s 3-1 road win over Sporting Kansas City was arguably Houston’s most impressive result of the season — but it came at a high price as first-choice goalkeeper Tally Hall suffered a season-ending knee injury. Yet with ground to make up in the Eastern Conference and only nine matches left the Dynamo cannot afford any dip in performance against Montreal at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 p.m. CT; TICKETS).
While Hall recuperates the Dynamo have backup Tyler Deric ready to step in and show why so many within the club are so upbeat about the 26-year-old Houstonian’s potential. Captain Brad Davis is sure that the transition in goal will be seamless.
“It doesn’t really change anything for us. That’s absolutely nothing against Tally, he’s a great goalie, he’s the number one goalie, he’d be playing, but Tyler’s been a great goalie, I feel like he could be starting on a lot of other teams in this league,” said Davis.
“So we have full confidence in what he can do, it doesn’t change at all what we’re trying to do in front of him, doesn’t change the attitude or anything like that. So we have full confidence in the guy, we’re going to go about our business just how we normally do,” he told reporters on Tuesday at Houston Sports Park.
Shortly afterwards the Dynamo announced that Hall is expected to undergo surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Friday at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. The 29-year-old suffered the injury as he tried to make a clearance and was replaced by Deric for the final ten minutes against SKC.
Though he has seen limited match action with Houston because of Hall’s form and fitness, Davis said that Deric has blossomed behind the scenes in recent years thanks to his work with goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley. Deric has taken the field 16 times across all competitions in his Dynamo career, allowing less than a goal a match.
“Tim’s a great goalkeeper coach, if you look at Tim’s resume, the goalies that he’s had and the success that they’ve had, I think it’s a testament to him as well and also the guys that are willing to put the work in,” said Davis. “Both Tally and Tyler have definitely put the work in, he’s earned the opportunity here to go out and now prove what we all know he can do. Now it’s an opportunity to go and put that into first team games at a very important time of the season, so we definitely believe in what we can do, we’ve definitely seen him grow and we have all the confidence in the world in him.”
Center back David Horst agrees. “Tyler’s very vocal back there, he’s very good with his feet and he’s very rangy,” he told HoustonDynamo.com. “I think you saw at the end of that Kansas City game; Tyler’s coming out for a lot of balls in the air which really helps us as defenders, we don’t have to hold our marks that extra three seconds for that ball coming down out of the air, Tyler can go up and get it, which really helps. I see Tyler every day in training, he’s more than capable of filling in for Tally.”
As a veteran, Horst usually knows exactly what to do in every situation. But the 28-year-old found himself at a loss on Friday night after scoring only the second goal of his MLS career to put the Dynamo 2-1 up on SKC, heading in a Davis free kick. The unlikely scorer seemed as shocked as anyone and clearly did not have a goal celebration planned. “It was pretty funny. He makes a good hard run, the ball goes in and out of the back of the net before anybody I think realized we scored a goal … He goes, ‘I don’t know what to do!’” said Davis.
“Honestly I didn’t know what to do …. I was just running back to play defense,” Horst smiled. The 28-year-old’s previous goal came in June 2012 for his former club the Portland Timbers against the Seattle Sounders. He was delighted to return to the scoresheet and is hoping that his height and Davis’s pinpoint set-piece delivery will allow him to add to his tally again before long.
“I think it’s definitely been a matter of luck. There’s been times where I’ve barely put it over, I’ve barely put it wide, I’ve hit somebody on the line, I’ve hit the goalie. So finally getting one to go through, it feels good and hopefully that opens the floodgates a little bit and I can get a few more here at the end of the year to help the team out in our playoff push,” he said.
Montreal are in last place in the Eastern Conference, while SKC are second, but Horst says that the Dynamo’s attitude is the same regardless of their opponents’ situation. “Every time we step on the field we expect to win and every game going forward for us is an important game no matter if we’re playing somebody ahead of us in the rankings or playing somebody behind us in the standings,” he said. “Every game is important and every point matters.”
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.