HOUSTON – There’s cruel, and then there’s conceding a game-winning own goal on your debut for a new club.
Unfortunately for James Riley, that’s the fate handed to him on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium, as the halftime substitute saw a solid shift spoiled by thumping header that found the back of the net – just not the right one.
Without captain Dwayne De Rosario, who was suspended for United’s first two matches of the season, D.C. looked primed to take a valuable opening day point in Houston through 80 minutes. But then Brad Davis whipped a corner kick to the back post, where it whistled past Ricardo Clark’s head and found Riley’s noggin before caroming powerfully into the back of the net.
MLS Match Recap: Houston Dynamo 2, D.C. United 0
“If it had to happen to anyone, I would rather it be me,” Riley said. “I think I’m strong enough to handle that and bounce back, no problem. Absolutely it hurts. Definitely feel like I let the guys down. But it happens.”
Riley said he didn’t see the ball coming, jumping with Clark to try to throw the Dynamo man off only to be undone by an unlucky break.
“Just unlucky – a good ball whipped in, we both go up, and unfortunately I’m on the wrong end of it and [the ball] hit off my head and in,” he said. “Obviously very disappointed. The guys worked hard. We could of gotten out of here with a draw. It would have been a good result for us.”
After Bill Hamid saved a Brad Davis penalty attempt 40 minutes into the match, one set up by a foul on Clark that appeared to be outside the penalty area, it seemed karma was on United’s side.
That notion was reinforced by an incredible two-save sequence just minutes later that denied Will Bruin and Giles Barnes season-opening goals, but it wasn’t to be for the visitors. Clark eventually made it 2-0 in the 89th minute, but the critical blow was struck nine minutes before, leaving D.C. to lament their fourth straight loss at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“I think they’re a tough team to play here. They continue to be a tough team to play,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “I was encouraged by the second half. The first half we were shaky in a lot of areas, and they were better.
“Saying that, as usual, we still had good looks. In a place like this, you have to take those. The two, three good chances we had, you have to score those to get out of here. And we didn’t do that.”