Alexander López

Sporting KC 2-0 Houston Dynamo: Testy tilt with questionable calls

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In a game with loads of cards, a penalty kick, humid weather and plenty of injuries, it was fitting that several of the aforementioned factors came together on the game’s decisive play.

Benny Feilhaber separated his shoulder setting up the game-winning goal in Sporting KC’s 10-man, 2-0 win over the home Houston Dynamo on Friday night on a play that earned Eric Brunner a yellow (and could’ve gotten a straight red on another day).

It wasn’t a game for the officiating highlight reel. To be fair, it wasn’t a game for any highlight reel. Toni Dovale was given a red card in the 21st minute for this casual and wayward elbow to Alexander Lopez, one of a handful of worthwhile reds (but the only one given). See below:

Soony Saad scored KC’s first goal off a Feilhaber feed, and then Dom Dwyer converted a penalty kick to give the game its final score line. Dwyer’s 10th goal of the season fittingly came on a penalty that probably shouldn’t have been given, as a shoulder block was given as a handball.

Houston picked up four yellows, while KC was handed two yellows to go with Toni’s red. Kansas City is within a point for first place New England with the win, while Houston remains in fourth place.

Both goalkeepers were strong, Eric Kronberg with the clean sheet and Houston’s Tyler Deric with a strong first performance of 2014.

The brutal heat played a role, but there’s no excuse for a match like the one we watched in Houston. Not so good, Al.

Two-in-a-row for New York as Houston falls apart (Video)

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Perhaps my memory is failing me, but this might be the worst defensive performance we’ve seen from a Dom Kinnear team.

It’s not just that they gave up four to New York in today’s 4-1 loss. And it’s not that they gave up those goals at BBVA Compass Stadium, a venue that at one time played as a fortress. It’s that it was far too easy for the Red Bulls to use basic execution to leave Tally Hall with almost no chance to prevent the rout.

The first Red Bull goal was a well-placed, well-hit (in an unconventional sense) shot from Eric Alexander, but New York was able to pass right through the middle of New York’s defense to set that up. While roster issues that forced Will Bruin into a start at the head of a midfield three might have contributed to the overall result, Adam Moffat and Alexander López have to do better at the base of midfield.

Thierry Henry expended little effort walking through the Houston defense for the second, Mike Chabala just decides he’s done playing as Jonny Steele makes it 3-1, while nobody seems to be willing to actually challenge New York as they built Lloyd Sam’s 88th minute insurance.

On a couple of the goals, New York looked like they were playing a poorly-prepared college team. It was too early to pull the defense apart. There was too little resistance in the build up. They didn’t have to settle for lower percentage shots, knowing they would be able to get at Hall.

What’s happened to the Houston Dynamo? Normally reliable players like Bobby Boswell and Moffat are making basic mistakes. Will Bruin still can’t buy a goal. They’re not even giving Tally Hall a chance to keep them competitive anymore. Kinnear’s fiddling with his formation, but it’s not going to matter unless these guys start playing better.

It’s not that they’re a little off their game. These players are bad, right now. Missing basic assignments. Almost open nets being missed. At times, even a lack of effort. Houston’s hit rock bottom.

As for New York, this is a great three points to get, but given Houston’s performance, there isn’t much to learn from the match. Red Bull proved they can take advantage of a bad team, but any team playing at the top of their conference should.

And right now (and perhaps, surprisingly), Houston is bad team. Fortunately for them, Montréal’s performance in New England is going to keep them tied on points for the last playoff spot, even if they technically sixth in the East. But right now, they’re not the sixth-best team in the East. They’re playing more like Toronto and D.C. United than the conference’s elite.