CARSON, Calif. – Colin Clark manned the right, trainer Theron Enns the left. Calen Carr was in their arms, gripping their shoulders as he was carried into the Dynamo locker room following Houston’s 3-1 MLS Cup loss to LA on Saturday.
Just hours after Carr’s 44th-minute goal gave Houston a 1-0 lead they couldn’t convert into MLS Cup redemption, his left knee – injured in an awkward challenge with Omar Gonzalez in the 57th minute – simply couldn’t handle the long walk off the pitch and up the ramp to the visitor’s training room.
According to the club, there won’t be any official diagnosis until the team’s medical staff examines Carr in the next 24 to 48 hours. He wasn’t made available for comment after the match either, leaving his teammates to extrapolate on how losing their most active attacker turned the game on its head.
GOAL: Carr gives Houston the lead
“It’s more of a mental blow than anything. You feel really bad for him, and it kind of brings your morale down a little bit,” strike partner Will Bruin said. “I think right after that they got both their goals in a short amount of time. We could have bounced back a little bit better. We take that blow and we don’t recover from it until they score two goals from it. It’s an uphill battle from there and we didn’t get it done.”
As Bruin alluded to, LA scored twice through Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan almost immediately after Mac Kandji came on for the hobbled Carr, who immediately called for a substitute after going to ground following the collision, in the 60th minute.
The change forced the Dynamo to tweak the tactical setup that had the Galaxy on their heels for extended periods during the opening 45 minutes as well as the opening stanza of the second half.
“Different personnel always changes the game,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “I’m a huge Calen Carr fan. It goes back to playing against him in college. I didn’t like playing against him then, and now that he’s on my team, I love having him. When he goes off, it’s a different dynamic and we change formations a little bit. So, of course, the game changes.”
Unfortunately for Houston, they were never able to recover from that back-to-back salvo from LA. Despite pushing LA to their limit as time slipped away, they lacked the final touch, the precise run that Carr may have been able to deliver had he arrived in the tackle just a second later or planted squarely on the Home Depot Center turf.
Instead, Robbie Keane finished things off in the final minutes, earning and converting the Galaxy’s second penalty of the night while Carr watched his team’s hope for an alternate storyline fade away from the Dynamo bench.
“[Calen] was absolutely fantastic today,” Adam Moffat said. “We feel a little more confident when he’s on the field. Maybe it’s just that one goal and we can go down and get another [with Carr]. He was real dangerous today. He was fantastic on that goal. It was sad to see him injured.”