The Houston Dynamo, playing with 10 men for the final 76 minutes and reduced to eight men in stoppage time, fell to Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo were shown 10 cards in all – the most in a game in the club’s 13-year history – and the three ejections were also the most in Dynamo history. Despite the 10-2 disparity in cards shown, the Dynamo were actually whistled for four fewer fouls (12) than Sporting Kansas City (16) in a physical and testy match between two long-time rivals.
Sporting Kansas City took the lead in the 75th minute when midfielder Graham Zusi played a quick ball to midfielder Gianluca Busio at the edge of the box. Busio gave a first-touch through ball to forward Diego Rubio on the right side of the box and the Chilean placed his right-footed shot inside the far post for the only goal of the game.
The Dynamo found themselves down a man just 14 minutes into the match as defender Alejandro Fuenmayor was ejected by referee Chris Penso. Fuenmayor challenged for a header with Busio near midfield. Both players collided as they tried to get the ball, but Busio fell to the ground after the collision and Penso went to his pocket for a red card.
Sporting nearly took the lead right before the half, but a diving save by goalkeeper Joe Willis sent the teams into the locker room in a scoreless draw. In the 44th minute, Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez took a right-footed shot from 20 yards out. Willis dove quickly to the right post to deflect the attempt and send the ball out of play for a corner kick, which was subsequently cleared.
In addition to the 10 cards issued, head coach Wilmer Cabrera was dismissed from the match by Penso for what was termed “inappropriate conduct in the tunnel” during halftime. First assistant Michael Dellorusso managed the team in the second half.
The Dynamo tried to break the tie early in the second half with a header by forward Alberth Elis. In the 54th minute, defender Adam Lundkvist sent a cross to the center of the box. Elis headed the ball on target, but Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia was well-positioned to save the effort.
The Dynamo kept searching for the opening goal as the second half continued. In the 63rd minute, midfielder Boniek García started a counterattack when he played a long ball to forward Romell Quioto down the left wing. The Honduran international collected the ball and played a diagonal ball to Elis, who was racing into the penalty area from the right side. Elis collected the ball and got off a right-footed effort under pressure, but Melia was again there to make the save.
Houston’s newest signing, forward Ronaldo Peña, made his Dynamo and Major League Soccer debut when he came on in the 72nd minute for forward Mauro Manotas. The 21-year-old Venezuelan was active in his 18-minute shift, with 16 touches and several dangerous runs in behind the Sporting defense.
As the game neared full time, Elis again got into the penalty area and appeared to be brought down by a Sporting defender, but his shout for a penalty was waved off, leaving the Dynamo still in search of a late equalizer.
A foul near midfield in stoppage time led to the ejection of two Dynamo players, reducing the home side to eight players. Midfielder Darwin Cerén was issued a red card by Penso, officially for violent conduct, after the midfielder’s hand touched a Kansas City player as they jostled for the ball. Minutes later, Penso reached for his red card again to eject Elis after consulting with Video Assistant Referee Daniel Radford. The referee distributed his final caution of the evening, the 10th overall, in the ninth minute of stoppage time to Leonardo for a foul.
Next up for the Dynamo, they will face Los Angeles FC in the semifinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m. CDT. It marks the first time that Houston has hosted an Open Cup Semifinal, and the third appearance in the tournament’s final four in club history and first since 2009. The Dynamo return to league play on Saturday, August 11 at Columbus Crew SC.
Houston Dynamo (7-9-6; 27 pts.) 0-1 Sporting Kansas City (10-6-6; 36 pts.)
MLS Regular Season Week 23
August 4, 2018 – BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
SKC: Diego Rubio 4 (Graham Zusi 4, Gianluca Busio 1) 74
Houston Dynamo: Joe Willis; Andrew Wenger, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Leonardo, Adam Lundkvist; Darwin Cerén, Tomás Martínez (Adolfo Machado 20), Boniek García ©; Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas (Ronaldo Peña 72), Romell Quioto
Unused subs: Chris Seitz, Arturo Alvarez, Luis Gil, Eric Alexander, Memo Rodriguez
Total shots: 9 (Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis tied with 4); Shots on goal: 4 (Alberth Elis 3); Fouls: 12 (Boniek García 3); Offside: 1 (Alberth Elis 1); Corner kicks: 3 (Adam Lundqvist 2); Saves: 3 (Joe Willis 3)
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler ©, Seth Sinovic; Felipe Gutiérrez, Ilie Sánchez, Gianluca Busio; Gerso Fernandes, Yohan Croizet (Diego Rubio 61), Dániel Sallói
Unused subs: Erick Dick, Kharlton Belmar, Jaylin Lindsey, Cristian Lobato, Wan Kuzain, Amer Didic
Total shots: 14 (Gianluca Busio 4); Shots on goal: 4 (Graham Zusi, Felipe Gutiérrez, Ilie Sanchez, Diego Rubio tied with 1); Fouls: 16 (Seth Sinovic 4); Offside: 2 (Gerso Fernandes, Yohan Croizet tied with 1);Corner kicks: 4 (Graham Zusi 2); Saves: 4 (Time Melia 4)
HOU: Romell Quioto (caution; unsporting behavior) 4
HOU: Alejandro Fuenmayor (ejection; serious foul) 14
HOU: Alberth Elis (caution; dissent) 15
HOU: Boniek García (caution; dissent) 19
SKC: Seth Sinovic (caution; foul) 22
HOU: Joe Willis (caution; dissent) 70
HOU: Ronaldo Peña (caution; foul) 80
SKC: Diego Rubio (caution; foul) 90+1
HOU: Darwin Cerén (ejection; violent conduct) 90+4
HOU: Alberth Elis (ejection; violent conduct) 90+7
HOU: Leonardo (caution; foul) 90+9
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referee 1: Apolinar Mariscal
Assistant Referee 2: Mike Rottersman
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal
VAR: Daniel Radford