Watch: Ricardo Clark stuns FC Dallas with one-time blast

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It wasn’t a win, but the Houston Dynamo still haven’t lost since Owen Coyle’s departure.

[ MORE: RSL pulls off comeback, downs NYCFC on the road ]

In Thursday’s Texas Derby against FC Dallas, the Dynamo were down 1-0 in the second half. The team needed a goal, and that’s when veteran midfielder Ricardo Clark stepped up for the struggling Western Conference side.

Andrew Wenger attempted a penetrating pass into the path of Dynamo striker Will Bruin, but the play was broken up by Walker Zimmerman. The Dallas defender couldn’t react quickly enough to his touch and that’s when Clark struck a perfect one-time effort past goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

The Dynamo have now tied two consecutive matches since former head coach Coyle left the club. Despite the results, the team remains at the bottom of the West table, sitting on 13 points in 14 matches this season.

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MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 5-0 FC Dallas (video)

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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The game in 100 words (or less): FC Dallas, what’s up, man? What in the world happened tonight? You let everybody get all high on you during the offseason, then opened 2016 with a resounding 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, only to fall flat on your face against your most hated rivals, the Houston Dynamo, a week later? I know this is MLS, but come on. Houston were 4-0 up by the half-hour mark, and that was that. It’s incredibly easy to say, “Houston wanted it more,” but from the opening whistle to the final whistle, they were first to every 50-50 ball, quicker to react and the absolute aggressors in every facet of the game. Stat of the night: 5 shots on target for the Dynamo, 5 goals (though one came via an own goal). Efficient.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 2 ]

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Horst heads home with ease from close range — A guy David Horst’s size has little trouble heading the ball into the back of the net against little or no resistance. From now on, mark the big guy.

13′ — Hedges coolly slots the ball into his own goal — Matt Hedges applied the coolest finish of the still-young MLS season … with just one problem: that’s your team’s goal, Matt.

23′ — Clark hammers one home for 3-0 — Six FCD players were within eight yards of the end line, which meant Ricardo Clark had roughly 10 yards of space to the nearest defender. This is not how you want to defend.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Andrew Wenger

Goalscorers: Horst (6′), Hedges (13′ – OG), Clark (23′), Wenger (27′), Bruin (85′)

MLS announces inaugural class of free agents, re-entry draft candidates

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Who says there’s such a thing as the Major League Soccer “offseason?” And who says we were supposed to kick back and enjoy such a thing on Monday, barely 24 hours after the Portland Timbers hoisted the 2015 MLS Cup?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Not only have we already witnessed a flurry of early offseason trades today, but MLS also announced the inaugural class of free agents — players who are eligible to negotiate new contracts with any of the league’s 20 teams after meeting its brand new age-28 and eight-years-MLS-experienced requirements.

(All salary numbers taken from MLS Players Union salary release, found here.)

FULL LIST OF 2015-16 FREE AGENTS (by position, alphabetically)

Goalkeepers

Jon Busch — Chicago Fire
Troy Perkins — Montreal Impact
Kyle Reynish — New York Red Bulls
Andrew Weber — Portland Timbers

Defenders

Corey Ashe — Orlando City SC
Bobby Burling — Colorado Rapids
Ty Harden — Chicago Fire
Michael Harrington — Colorado Rapids
Steven Keel — FC Dallas
Jeff Larentowicz — Chicago Fire
Drew Moor — Colorado Rapids
James Riley — Colorado Rapids

Midfielders

Eric Avila — Orlando City SC
Brian Carroll — Philadelphia Union
Ricado Clark — Houston Dynamo
Ned Grabavoy — New York City FC
Nick LaBrocca — Colorado Rapids
Justin Mapp — Montreal Impact
Paulo Nagamura — Sporting Kansas City
Nathan Sturgis — Houston Dynamo

Forwards

Chad Barrett — Seattle Sounders
Edson Buddle — LA Galaxy
Conor Casey — Philadelphia Union
Kenny Cooper — Montreal Impact
Alan Gordon — LA Galaxy
Mike Magee — Chicago Fire

Of the above listed players, the following names (no particular order) seem most likely to garner the most interest on the open market: Mike Magee, Justin Mapp, Paulo Nagamura, Ned Grabavoy, Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor.

Magee, who won the MLS MVP award just two years ago, has fallen off spectacularly since that 2013 campaign in which he scored 22 goals in 29 games while splitting time between the Galaxy and Fire. In the two seasons since, he has scored just seven goals in 29 appearance for his hometown club. Given his $400,000 cap hit in 2015, he’ll have to take a pay-cut, but he will land somewhere.

Mapp might just be the gem of this inaugural class. Sure, he just turned 31 years old and he missed most of 2015 due to a long-term injury, but he’s only one year removed from back-to-back eight-assist seasons in Montreal. For the right price ($186,725 cap hit in 2015) and with the right team, he’ll be one of the best fringe-starter wingers in the league.

[ MORE: MLS offseason kicks off with flurry of big-time trades ]

Larentowicz, Magee’s now-former teammate in Chicago, is a more-than-serviceable starting center back, even at 32 years old, with the ability to seamlessly slot in at defensive midfield. He’ll be an intriguing option for teams looking to shore up either position with a craft veteran (hellooooo, D.C. United!), though he’ll likely have to do so at a slightly lower price than his $265,000 cap hit from 2015.

The other possible starter of the players mentioned above is Grabavoy, who ended up with NYCFC at the behest of Jason Kreis, who is no longer the team’s head coach. He’s approaching 300 games played in his MLS career and was a massive part of Real Salt Lake’s sustained successes from 2009-2014. As with Larentowicz, on the right team and the right system, Grabavoy will be a useful pick-up for something a little below his 2015 cap hit of $200,000.

Nagamura is wanted in Kansas City, where there are hopes he’ll take a reduced salary ($230,000 cap hit in 2015) to remain the first midfield option off the bench for Peter Vermes’ side. Moor is an interesting case in his own right, in that he’ll turn 32 in January, but he’s coming off of arguably the best season of his career. He could actually get close the his 2015 cap hit of $258,500 if a team believes he’s still a full-time starter.

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 1-1 Seattle Sounders

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The game in 100 words (or less): Where have the Seattle Sounders — you know, the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup contenders and/or favorites from six months ago — gone? And who thought it was a good idea to replace them with this slow, old and disinterested bunch we’ve been watching sleepwalk through the last three months of the 2015 season. With everything to play for on Sunday — a chance for a top-two seed in the playoffs, or the right to host their knockout round playoff game, at the very least — Sigi Schmid’s Sounders laid their latest egg, in the form of a 1-1 draw away to the Houston Dynamo. With one game left to play — at home vs. Real Salt Lake — Seattle need lots of help (two losses by the LA Galaxy, for starters) to finish top-two in the West, and no longer control their own destiny in terms of hosting the knockout round at CenturyLink Field.

[ MORE: East playoff scenarios | West | TFC 0-2 CLB | NE 0-1 MTL ]

Three moments that mattered

48′ — Deric out quickly to deny Dempsey — Clint Dempsey and Erik Friberg worked a clever give-and-go at the top of the 18-yard box to spring the former into a one-on-one chance against Tyler Deric. Unfortunately for the Sounders, Deric was up to the challenge, as has been the case all season.

65′ — Clark hammers home on the counter — Everyone in the world, including the Sounders defense, was convinced Brad Davis was about to cross the ball to the far post. Instead, the veteran winger waited for acres of space to open up at the top of the 18-yard box and cut the ball back to a late-arriving Ricardo Clark, who finished low and precise for a deserved lead.

81′ — Martins with another late equalizer — Obafemi Martins is making a habit of scoring late equalizers to make up for otherwise extremely poor Sounders performances (remember this one?). Andreas Ivanschitz whipped the ball into the box, the Dynamo didn’t deal with it, made the in excusable of letting the ball bounce inside the box, and Martins made them pay.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ricardo Clark

Goalscorers: Clark (65′), Martins (82′)

MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Houston Dynamo (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): While the rest of Major League Soccer went goal-crazy on Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo were busy doing what they do when facing one another: beating the crap out of each other in a game that finished a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park. 32 fouls were committed in the game, while just 13 shots were taken (8 on target). Sporting took a very early lead — a common thing around MLS Saturday night — but made the unforgivable mistake when facing the Dynamo: they gave Brad Davis a set piece. Sporting KC were denied a blatant penalty kick when the ball appeared to hit the hand of Luis Garrido in the 94th minute. Sporting remain fourth in the Western Conference with the Seattle Sounders, currently two points back in fifth, playing later Saturday night. The Dynamo are four points out of the sixth and final playoff place in the West.

[ MORE: DCU 6-4 RSL | OCSC 5-2 CLBNYCFC 2-3 MTLDrogba arrives | Johannsson to MLS? ]

The moments that mattered

6′ — Dwyer heads home Feilbaber’s free kick — The set-piece delivery from Benny Feilhaber was, as is now expected, on point. Dom Dwyer’s job was simple: put your head on the ball and redirect it past Tyler Deric from seven yards out. Mission accomplished, and a 1-0 lead for Sporting.

11′ — Melia out to clean up his defense’s mess — Somehow Will Bruin came to be all by himself behind the Sporting backline. If not for Tim Melia’s quick rushing out and strong hands to push the ball out of Bruin’s path, the score would have been 1-1.

78′ — Clark heads home Davis’ free kick for the equalizer — Don’t give the Dynamo set pieces. Don’t give the Dynamo set pieces. Don’t give the Dynamo set pieces. Opposing teams who give the Dynamo set pieces should be made to write that on a chalkboard 1,000 after every game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

LINEUPS

Sporting Kansas City: Melia, Dia, Besler, Ellis, Myers (Abdul-Salaam 79′), Mustivar, Espinoza (Nagamura 90′), Feilhaber, Nemeth, Dwyer, Zusi (Peterson 90+4′)

Goals: Dwyer (6′)

Houston Dynamo: Deric, Beasley, Rodriguez, Horst, Williams, Davis, Alex (Miranda 68′), Sturgis, Barnes, Clark (Garrido 80′), Bruin (Torres 62′)

Goals: Clark (78′)