HOUSTON – It's not hard to get under Corey Ashe’s skin. The feisty left back has a short temper and rarely backs down from a challenge.
The Montreal Impact learned that the hard way.
In the 89th minute of Thursday night's 3-0 win for Houston, Andres Romero set off fireworks for kicking out at a prone Kofi Sarkodie. After the kick landed, reinforcements arrived and a game that had little fight left in it in the run of play erupted with emotion. In the process, Ashe was scratched in the neck, face and ear by Marco Di Vaio – who had a running battle with the left back throughout the night – and the Dynamo defender was ready to react.
The good thing for Houston was that cooler heads prevailed, thanks to the help of some of Ashe’s teammates. But the clash and Romero’s actions left a lasting impression.
“It’s the playoffs. Tempers are a little raised,” Ashe said. “I’m fine with the pushing, but when you put your hands on my face, that’s when I lose it.”
“It’s easy [to keep your cool] if you’re not the one getting hit in the face,” added Bobby Boswell, who was one of several trying to separate the players involved. “You want to help your teammate out and stand up for your guys, but you don’t want to hurt the team going forward.”
Romero’s action started the fracas. The second-half substitute for the Impact and Sarkodie were chasing a ball in the corner when Sarkodie went to ground and the Argentine took his shot.
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“Obviously, I didn’t like it and a majority of the guys didn’t like it when our player’s on the ground and somebody’s kicking at him,” Ashe said. “That’s disrespectful.”
“There’s no place in soccer for what [Romero] did to Kofi,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear, who tried to calm the situation from his technical area. “It got a little bit out of hand at the end there. We did our best to keep our cool.”
Keeping their cool was the key for Houston. The dust up resulted in red cards for Di Vaio and Romero, ruling them out of next season’s opener. Ashe, meanwhile, received a yellow card. That was a welcome response for the Dynamo, as they avoided a pitfall that could have negatively affected their efforts against the New York Red Bulls.
“The refs, you’ve got to commend them for doing a good job and realizing the bigger picture there,” Boswell said. “In [Montreal’s] case, they had nothing to lose really. In ours, we’ve got everything to lose.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.