A sixth-minute red card to forward Alberth Elis forced the Houston Dynamo to play down a man for more than 80 minutes tonight at Atlanta United, resulting in a 5-0 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Just over five minutes into the match, Elis tangled with Atlanta defender Leandro González Pirez and was shown a yellow card for dissent. The Honduran international approached referee Chris Penso with his arms out to question the call and the two appeared to brush against one another, prompting Penso to issue Elis a straight red card for what was deemed “violent conduct” according to the official match report.
Atlanta United took advantage of the man advantage, holding the ball for more than 70 percent of the match, and broke through late in the first half after defender Julian Gressel found midfielder Darlington Nagbe inside the box in the 27th minute. The Five Stripes doubled their lead two minutes later after a cross from defender Dion Pereira deflected off a Dynamo defender inside the box. The ball fell to an unmarked Brandon Vasquez inside the six-yard box and the forward headed the ball home.
Gressel tallied his second assist of the evening in the 60th minute when he found Josef Martínez near the six-yard box. The Venezuelan international beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric to the ball for Atlanta’s third goal of the evening. Martinez finished with a brace after he eluded a Dynamo defender and found the top corner of the near post in the 80th minute.
Gressel capped the scoring in the 88th minute with a goal after a Dynamo clearance fell to him at the top of the penalty area. He slotted home a right-footed shot into the lower left corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Before he was sent off, Elis looked like the most dangerous player on the pitch, creating a pair of golden chances in the opening moments. He created the first scoring chance of the game just 75 seconds into the match when he laid off a ball near the penalty spot for midfielder Tommy McNamara. The midfielder’s effort was on target but saved at the bottom corner of the far post by Brad Guzan.
Elis would get behind the Atlanta backline three minutes later and his cross found Marlon Hairston at the far post, but the forward’s effort was off target – just missing the inside of the post.
Dynamo forward Romell Quioto entered the match at halftime and stretched the Atlanta backline wide early in the second half. Quioto got behind the defense in the 52nd minute and appeared to be in on goal when Atlanta center back slide tackled him from behind inside the penalty area, bringing Quioto down as the ball rolled away. Although subsequent replays showed no contact with the ball by Robinson, Penso deemed it a clean tackle and allowed play to go on.
Four minutes later, Quioto did draw a foul outside the area, but his free kick whistled over the crossbar. Quioto snuck behind the Atlanta backline again in the 65th minute, but with limited options inside the box the forward opted to test his luck from a tight angle. The Honduran’s effort bounced off the bottom of the near post and trickled across the face of goal before eventually being cleared by Atlanta.
Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas entered the game in the 62nd minute and quickly linked up with midfielder Juan David Cabezas in the 67th minute, but the midfielder was forced off the ball inside the penalty area by a pair of Atlanta defenders.
Next up for Houston, the Dynamo fly north to complete their back-to-back matches against the last two MLS Cup champions as they visit Toronto FC on Saturday night. Kickoff for that match is slated for a 6:30 p.m. CDT kickoff and will be televised locally on KUBE 57 and TeleXitos 47.2.
The Dynamo return home on Wednesday, July 24 for the BBVA Classic against Club América to kick off the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament. That match is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. CDT kickoff, with tickets starting at $20.