The Houston Dynamo punched their ticket to the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Goalkeeper Tyler Deric was instrumental in the result, coming up with a career-high nine saves on the night to lead the club back into the postseason for the first time since 2013 and eighth time in 12 seasons.
The clean sheet was Deric’s fifth of the season and the 20th of his career. While he came up with a number of stellar saves, perhaps none was as big as the one he came up with in the sixth minute of stoppage time. After Sporting Kansas City midfielder Jimmy Medranda sent in a cross from the left touchline, the ball caromed off of four players and appeared headed into the net, but Deric reacted well and reached around the leg of Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber to swat the ball out of danger, literally taking it off of Feilhaber’s boot as he went to touch in the would-be game-winner.
Deric came up with four huge saves in the first half to keep the match scoreless through halftime. In the 15th minute, Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi cut in on his right foot and fired a low right-footed blast that forced a diving save from the Houston netminder.
Then in the 34th minute, Deric came up with a massive reaction save to keep the ball out. After a free kick from Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi hit the crossbar, the second ball deflected off a Dynamo defender and caught Deric leaning the wrong way, but he was able to gather and dive to push the ball wide before it could get over the line.
Deric came up with another big save in the 40th minute to get low and deny a shot from Salloi from 20 yards out. Then just before halftime, he was called upon yet again to come up with a pair of reaction saves. Off of a Kansas City cross in the 45th minute, defender Adolfo Machado attempted to head it away, but sent the ball toward the net instead before Deric parried it away. A minute later, Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber cracked a shot from the top of the penalty area, but Deric again got down to block the effort.
Just after intermission, Deric once again came up big. Sporting midfielder Jimmy Medranda slipped Feilhaber in behind the Dynamo back line, and Deric rushed off his line to cut down the angle and stoned Feilhaber’s right-footed shot and quickly pounced on the rebound.
Again in the 58th, Deric was well-positioned to stop a headed shot from Feilhaber after a cross from the byline to the back post. Deric matched his career high with his eighth save of the night in the 75th minute when he stonewalled a volley from Salloi from right of his goal.
The defense wasn’t all Deric, though. In the 67th minute, defender A.J. DeLaGarza came up with a big defensive play of his own when Medranda got behind the defense and whipped a ball across the face of goal. DeLaGarza outraced Salloi to the ball and safely put it out for a corner kick.
Although Sporting had more possession and outshot Houston 27-14, the Dynamo were not without their own chances to win the game.
Houston broke out on a quick two-man counterattack in the 50th minute following a Sporting corner kick as forward Alberth Elis and defender DaMarcus Beasley raced down the pitch. The break led to a Dynamo corner, after which DeLaGarza lashed a right-footed shot that forced a save from Sporting goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.
Houston’s Honduran connection of forwards Elis and Romell Quioto nearly combined for a game-winner in the 79th minute. Elis raced down the right touchline before laying off a pass for Quioto inside the penalty area. Quioto’s first touch took him wide of the goal, but he managed a shot that forced a save from Dykstra to keep the game level.
The Dynamo very nearly won it late off of a long throw-in from Machado. The Panama international’s throw fell to Quioto near the penalty spot, but the Honduran’s shot was blocked by Sporting defender Graham Zusi before it could get to its target. The rebound then fell to forward Vicente Sánchez, whose left-footed shot was again deflected before it could get on frame.
The Dynamo will close out the regular season at home next Sunday, Oct. 22 against the Chicago Fire at 3 p.m. for Fan Appreciation Day (TICKETS). Houston goes into Decision Day with in fifth place in the MLS Western Conference table. A win over Chicago could vault Houston to as high as third in the conference, which would guarantee a home game in the Knockout Round.
Sporting Kansas City (12-8-13; 49 pts.) 0-0 Houston Dynamo (12-10-11; 47 pts.)
MLS Week 33
Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 – Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Sporting Kansas City: Andrew Dykstra; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler ©, Cristian Lobato (Latif Blessing 83); Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Benny Feilhaber; Jimmy Medranda, Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi
Unused Substitutes: Adrian Zendejas, Amer Didic, Gerso Fernandes, Soni Mustivar, Kévin Oliveira, Seth Sinovic
Total shots: 27 (Benny Feilhaber 10); Shots on goal: 7 (Benny Feilhaber, Daniel Salloi 3); Fouls: 8 (Cristian Lobato, Jimmy Medranda, Diego Rubio 2); Offside: 2 (Jimmy Medranda, Diego Rubio 1); Corner kicks: 9 (Graham Zusi 8); Saves: 2 (Andrew Dykstra 2)
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley; Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark ©, Tomás Martínez (Vicente Sánchez 72); Alberth Elis, Erick Torres (Mauro Manotas 90), Alex (Romell Quioto 66)
Unused Substitutes: Joe Willis, Eric Alexander, Jalil Anibaba, Dylan Remick
Total shots: 14 (Alberth Elis 4); Shots on goal: 2 (Alberth Elis, A.J. DeLaGarza 1); Fouls: 11 (Juan David Cabezas 3); Offside: 1 (Alberth Elis 1); Corner kicks: 6 (Alex 3); Saves: 9 (Tyler Deric 9)
HOU: Erick Torres (caution; foul) 67
HOU: A.J. DeLaGarza (caution; foul) 85
SKC: Latif Blessing (caution; foul) 90+3
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referee 1: Kermit Quisenberry
Assistant Referee 2: Craig Lowry
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
VAR: Rubiel Vazquez