It was a tale of two halves as the Houston Dynamo fell to Real Salt Lake Sunday night by a score of 5-2 despite a brace by rookie Mark Sherrod in his first ever start. The first half was characterized by disorganization and missed opportunities. The second half by grit, fight and determination – features that have not often been seen in this Dynamo team over the past two seasons.
The match got off to a very poor start for the Dynamo, as they conceded a goal just 15 seconds following the opening whistle. Servando Carrasco misplayed a bouncing ball, allowing it to go over his head to Javier Morales. After passing it to Álvaro Saborio then receiving it back, Morales found himself in acres, spotted Dynamo keeper Tally Hall off his line and put a beautiful chip shot into the back of the net.
Saborio nearly doubled Salt Lake’s lead just two minutes later as Real went on a break following a corner. Defender Corey Ashe found himself all alone at the center line with Morales and Saborio. Rather than play the ball, Ashe made the curious decision to mark Saborio allowing Morales time and space to take the ball down and run at goal.
With no help, Ashe found himself caught between the two players as Morales played Saborio through. Fortunately for the Dynamo, Saborio hit his shot harmlessly straight at Hall.
Sherrod served notice that he was going to be a headache for Salt Lake in the 9th minute. In the aftermath of a corner, Sherrod got on the end of a cross by Kofi Sarkodie and heading it just wide of the post.
Salt Lake continued to threaten, however, and finally got their second in the 17th minute as Morales redirected a Grabavoy header off a corner into the back of the net. It was a series of Dynamo errors that led to the goal, however.
Andrew Driver was the initial culprit as he allowed the ball to roll over the end line for the corner despite having time and space to take the ball and either turn upfield or put it across the sideline for a thrown in. Boniek Garcia then completely lost Grabavoy on the corner and Driver fell asleep, leaving Morales open in front of the net for the redirection.
Despite the poor start, the Dynamo got themselves right back in the match in the 22nd minute as Sherrod scored his first goal as a professional with a lovely left footed redirection off a Brad Davis corner.
Just five minutes later, the Dynamo found themselves a man down after Carrasco was sent off following a reckless tackle on Morales. The crowd did not like the decision, however the replay suggests it may have been the correct call. It was a poor tackle, completely missing the ball and Carrasco appeared to have hit Morales studs up in the ankle.
As was the case earlier this year against FC Dallas, the Dynamo did not respond well to the red card and found themselves down by two just five minutes later following a Saborio header off a Mulholland cross.
The Dynamo were offered a way back into the match in the 36th minute as David Horst was pushed down in the box. Giles Barnes stepped up to take the penalty in place of Davis who has a poor record on penalties against Rimando. Barnes fared no better, however, as Rimando reminded us why he is the best in the league at stopping penalties.
Following the intermission, the Dynamo looked a different team. Much more focused and filled with fight. Sherrod, in particular, was all over the pitch and the Dynamo seemed to feed off his effort as Real Salt Lake looked like the team that was a man down.
After several opportunities, the Dynamo clawed themselves back into the match in the 56th minute. It was a team effort as AJ Cochran pressured Saborio into a poor pass which Barnes was able to intercept and toe on to Sherrod who drilled it past Rimando for his brace.
The Dynamo continued to push with the crowd now fully behind them and rejuvenated by the effort they saw on the pitch. The match tying moment seemed to come in the 72nd minute. A beautiful pass from Garcia sprung Sarkodie along the side line. Sarkodie spotted Garcia’s run into the box and put a perfect pass right on to Garcia’s foot but the shot went wide.Stretched thin as they pushed for the final goal and wearing out on a hot day, the Dynamo finally broke in the 78th minute. Once again it was Morales doing the damage with a perfect pass that sprung Mulholland in on goal. Hall tried to come out to stop the opportunity but Mulholland rounded him and made it 4-2.
Salt Lake added a 5th in the 89th minute; a hat trick for Morales off a penalty.
The loss ended a three match run without losing for the Dynamo. Despite the scoreline and the rough start, Dynamo fans will have found some positives in this match based on the play of Sherrod and the fight the Dynamo showed in the 2nd half.