The Houston Dynamo fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 2-1 tonight in their first true test of the season: an away game in a country where they have historically been unsuccessful.
This was a test as well for the relatively new central defensive pairing of Jermaine Taylor and David Horst. The pairing were exposed at times on long balls over the top against Montreal Impact last time out and now were facing a team with tremendous speed, particularly in the in the person of forward Darren Mattocks.
During the first half, the Dynamo looked overly concerned of Mattocks’ speed as both the defense and the midfield played relatively deep, conceding possession to Vancouver. As a result, the defense contained the Vancouver attack for the most part but the Dynamo attack was toothless, with the midfield and forwards having difficulty linking up. The Dynamo passing was generally fairly poor, helped no doubt by the artificial turf in BC Place.
When the defensive lapse did come, it was deadly. Taylor got caught flat footed on a Corey Ashe pass in the 13th minute, watching as Mattocks took the ball off his foot. Horst initially saved Taylor his blushes by putting Mattock’s cross to an open Kenny Miller out over the endline. However, on the ensuing corner Taylor was beaten in the air by Andy O’Brien, heading the ball back across goal to an onrushing Jordan Harvey who put it past Tally Hall while a host of Houston defenders stood watching.
Houston came out looking a bit more energetic in attack in the second half. However, they were undone in the 56th minute when Mattocks ran full speed at Kofi Sarkodie who stumbled to the ground as he twisted and turned to keep Mattocks in front of him. While on the ground, Sarkodie’s arm came into contact with the ball and the referee whistled for a penalty. Miller calmly converted the penalty – twice as the penalty had to be retaken following encroachment from Vancouver players on the first.
Down 2-0, the Dynamo sent Omar Cummings into the game in the 71st minute in place of Boniek Garcia, who played well despite having an illness during the week and taking a knock to the thigh during the first half. Giles Barnes moved back to the central attacking midfielder role while Cummings partnered with Will Bruin.
The Dynamo pressed forward and a set piece goal in the 75th minute breathed new life into the Dynamo attack. Brad Davis sent a free kick into the area and Ricardo Clark was able to get on the end of it to head the ball into the net.
The Dynamo promptly took Taylor out of the game in the 77th minute in favor of Brian Ownby, switching to a 3-5-2 as they sought to get the equalizer. The Dynamo continued to push, creating opportunities but failing to convert any. In the 85th minute they went for broke, sending striker Mark Sherrod on for an ineffective Andrew Driver, going to a 3-4-3 formation. The tying goal was not to come, however, as the Whitecaps were able to see out the match for the win.
The Dynamo return home to face rival FC Dallas on April 5th and will seek to recapture El Capitán, an 18th century howitzer cannon that goes to the winner of the Texas derby each year.
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