The Houston Dynamo attempted to rally on Saturday after falling behind for the first time in 2014, and it looked like they might be able to claw their way back.
Out of the halftime break, the Dynamo were the aggressor, putting pressure on the hometown Vancouver Whitecaps. That changed when Kofi Sarkodie went to ground, putting his arm down to brace his fall and connecting with the ball in trying to slow down Darren Mattocks in Houston's box. The result of the play was a penalty kick that, after an encroachment call, was eventually converted by Kenny Miller.
In a game that eventually evened out, it was the decisive tally in a 2-1 loss at BC Place that was a mix of self-inflicted wounds and perhaps some tough luck in Houston’s first loss of the season.
“That one was difficult,” Dynamo captain Brad Davis told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “For me it looks a bit like ball to hand instead of hand to ball as he goes down. We definitely feel like [the goals] were self-inflicted a little bit. We put ourselves into a little bit of a hole but were close to digging out of it as well.”
Houston started the game well, threatening the Whitecaps from the opening kick. But after the first 10 minutes the tables shifted and Vancouver took control as Houston struggled to build off a strong start.
“We talked about playing out of pressure and moving the ball but they did a good job stepping to us and I think we needed to be a little more patient,” Davis said. “We weren’t doing that too much and I felt like we gave the ball away too cheaply.”
While the Dynamo struggled with patience, it was instead a lapse in marking that brought them down. On a 14th minute set piece, a cross from Pedro Morales found the head of Andy O’Brien, who fed Jordan Harvey after splitting the Dynamo defense for the game’s first goal.
“That’s just being tough in the box on set pieces and staying with runners,” Davis said. “They had two guys in there that followed the ball and we just need to be tough in the box and stay with runners. In that situation we were unable to and Harvey goes in and is able to score.”
Houston attempted to rebound from the 2-0 deficit with Ricardo Clark’s goal off a 40-yard Davis free kick in the 75th minute, the midfielder's 100th career assist. But the deficit was too much to overcome in the end.
“I thought we came out for the second half good and we put some pressure on them, but obviously they caught us on the break and got the call and we were 2-0 down which is difficult,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Did we have some bad luck today, possibly, at the end of it Vancouver got the win and we look forward to next week.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.