SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The result was more of the same for the Houston Dynamo -- a fifth loss in as many games on the road this year -- but their defeat Wednesday at Avaya Stadium featured a most unusual sight: Right back Jalil Anibaba finishing up the game in goal.
Anibaba was pressed into emergency goalkeeping duty for the final 11 minutes of regulation during the Dynamo’s 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes after starter Tyler Deric received a red card. Deric, who was also ejected from his season debut on April 23, made contact with Quakes forward Simon Dawkins following a whiffed clearance some 35 yards from home.
Houston had no subs remaining after coach Owen Coyle utilized them all just before the hour mark in an attempt to recover from Anibal Godoy’s too-simple go-ahead goal less than five minutes into the second half.
“No,” Coyle said when asked if he regretted his decision to bring on Boniek Garcia, Leonel Miranda and Erick Torres in retrospect. “At the end of the day, we were 2-1 down. We had to try to affect the game. . . . We needed some freshness.”
It was Anibaba’s MLS debut in goal, although the sixth-year veteran said he spent some time in net as a youth player. Anibaba got the job, Coyle said, mostly because he volunteered in the immediate aftermath of Deric’s departure.
“It was just a reaction,” Anibaba said. “We were all trying to do what we could to get ourselves back in the game. There was nothing more to it than that.”
Anibaba immediately faced a free kick from the red-card foul. Dawkins looped a shot over Houston’s wall, but Anibaba was able to make his ensuing catch look routine. He had more work in the 84th minute when Chad Barrett steamed down the left side as part of a 4-on-3 Quakes break, and did well to dive and block Barrett’s attempt.
“They battled away,” Coyle said of his team. “They showed a lot of spirit at 3-1, because it’s easy for you to feel sorry for yourself and that becomes four or five [goals allowed].”
Nevertheless, it was too late for the Dynamo to erase their deficit, done in by a defense that in Coyle’s words allowed an “avoidable” goal to Godoy and committed “a catalog of errors” before Alberto Quintero bagged his brace in the 70th minute.
How do Houston fix their leaky defense, which is now allowing a league-worst 1.90 goals per match?
“Just learn from our mistakes,” Anibaba said. “I’ve always said that letting in goals is a collective thing, collective breakdowns, not just the back line, goalkeeper or just one player. If you look at all the goals we’ve given up, it’s not just one person. As long as we understand that and take it upon ourselves to improve from a defensive standpoint, we can always turn it around.”