Real Salt Lake and Houston Dynamo were held scoreless until the 93rd minute by excellent goalkeeping, but a Colin Clark penalty kick broke the deadlock and gave Houston the victory.
The match was slowed by the Houston heat as well as the absence of numerous players.
Both sides were forced to make lineup changes due to international call-ups, injuries and suspensions. Salt Lake missed Alvaro Saborio, Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, and Chris Wingert from their first choice starting 11. Jamison Olave was also out of the starting lineup but available for selection, while recovering from injury.
Houston was without Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson. Brian Ching, due to illness, was unable to start the match, but he was available for selection.
Real Salt Lake came out attacking and was nearly rewarded in the 11th minute when Fabian Espindola was mistakenly ruled onside in a run at goal. The Argentine took the ball into the box and fired across the goal, but Tally Hall was able to make a critical save and the ball was eventually cleared.
Houston got in on the attack as well, creating threatening chances through set pieces. The home side’s best early opportunity came in the 24th minute when Jonny Steele took down Calen Carr on the right side of the penalty area. Houston’s Brad Davis, a consistent set piece threat, wasn’t able to put a strong ball on frame this time and the ball was easily cleared, though every set piece he took likely made the Salt Lake coaching staff shudder.
Espindola caused more trouble for Houston in the 31st minute when he got behind the defense and drove into the box. Ricardo Clark caught the Argentine attacker and dispossessed him, effectively ending the challenge.
The half ended with Salt Lake controlling the bulk of possession and forcing Houston to chase the match, despite being the home side.
Houston got the first chance in the second half when Brad Davis perfectly weighted a ball to Macoumba Kandji on the right side of the box. Kandji fired an open shot at Nick Rimando’s goal, but he mishit the ball and it went high and out of play.
Kandji nearly created a chance again in the 52nd minute when he got around Chris Schuler and into the box. Schuler made a great recovery and dispossessed Kandji from behind, preventing a shot on frame.
Salt Lake got its first chance of the half in the 62nd minute when Espindola took the ball to the right of the box and left it to a charging Javier Morales who fired on the first touch. His shot was deflected and missed wide.
Kofi Sarkodie created some magic of his own in the 69th minute when his dance on the Salt Lake goal line found him open to send a dangerous cross into the box. Nick Rimando came out and made a leaping interception to eliminate the danger.
Houston nearly broke through in the 75th minute when Will Bruin went down under a soft touch from Schuler during a cross. Brad Davis took the resulting penalty kick but Nick Rimando made a diving save to keep the match level.
Hall had his moment to shine in the 79th minute when a Morales corner kick was headed on frame by Nat Borchers. Hall’s diving save kept the match scoreless.
Rimando did it again in the 82nd minute when Will Bruin got his head on a cross and put a good shot on frame. The UCLA product made a sliding save to continue the scoreless affair.
Hall got Salt Lake back when slick passing found Ned Grabavoy alone behind the defense in the 89th minute. Hall made a sliding save and kept the ball out of the net.
Kandji drew a second penalty kick for Houston in the 93rd minute when he collected the ball in the box and Rimando came flying through him. Clark converted and gave Houston the victory.
Category: Game Review