HOUSTON – After Friday’s training Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell said he was expecting a dogfight between his club and their rivals Sporting Kansas City. Saturday his prediction came to fruition.
In a game where both teams were fatigued, Sporting playing their fifth game in 17 days and the Dynamo their sixth, Houston went blow for blow with the Midwest team. With bodies hitting the ground, and the Dynamo losing both Ricardo Clark and Will Bruin to injury, the teams battered and bruised each other on their way to a scoreless draw in the Eastern Conference Championship first leg.
“We knew it was going to be an ugly game, and it was,” Boswell said. “They are such a good possession team and we kind of went in and bullied them around and now they’ve just decided to meet us head on and just say ‘hey, we’re going to kick you and screw the possession.’ You’ve just got to meet them head on.”
Houston did just that. The two teams combined for 23 fouls and the play yielded little space for either team to be creative. It was the kind of game that could cause a player’s blood to boil and the Dynamo knew they had to avoid the trap.
“It’s tough especially when the referees letting a lot of it go,” said forward Cam Weaver, who was involved in a number of battles late in the game. “Guys take shots at other guys. It felt like I was battling three guys at any one time. That’s the game we were forced into, and we just had to adjust.”
In the end, the battle made the game look more like an MMA match than a soccer game. Clark left with a left leg injury and Bruin left with an undisclosed ailment.
“He was hurt. Simple enough,” Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said about Bruin. “We had to make two subs today. Obviously one during the first half and one at halftime that we were forced to make. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
For all the battle and fight, the energy never translated to a goal – despite Kofi Sarkodie’s 17th minute effort being waved off. Now the clubs will take a much needed two-week break before heading to Sporting Park Nov. 23 to finish the second half of the fight. It is a game the Dynamo are expecting more of the same from.
“I don’t think it’s anything like guys absolutely hate each other, it’s just the physical nature of the game,” Boswell said. “I’m sure it’s going to be that way when we go to Kansas City as well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.