In the 30th minute, Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas slipped a pass to Alberth Elis in the box. Elis ran onto the ball and started his shooting motion before Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala tackled the ball away, bringing the Honduran international down as well.
Referee Robert Sibiga initially signaled for a penalty before going to video review after being notified by the VAR, Juan Guzman, that a clear and obvious error was possibly made. After reviewing the play, Sibiga reversed the penalty call, ruling that Mabiala made a clean tackle on the ball.
After the match Elis said he didn’t want to say whether he thinks it was or wasn’t a penalty until he sees the replay. Regardless of what he thinks, he said, the reversed penalty call did not swing momentum one way or another.
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“The game stayed the same,” Elis said. “We improved in the second half and we had some more opportunities and now we have to go and get a result [in Portland] that can take us to the [Western Conference] final.”
“It’s something that we have to get used to because it’s going to be seen a lot,” said Manotas on Video Review making an appearance in the match.
And while Elis wouldn’t say whether it was a penalty or not, Manotas was resounding in his answer.
“Today, we were the ones who were persecuted because it was a play, that for me, it was a penalty,” Manotas said. “Because apart from the fact that the defender got the ball, the defender went in forcefully into Alberth and took him out.”
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said he didn’t have a good look at the play from his vantage point and all Houston can do is accept it.
“In other circumstances, or in other leagues, it’s a PK, and we have to play it,” Cabrera said. “But over here [in MLS] we have the VAR, it was used. If it’s in our favor, we’re happy. If it’s not in our favor, we’re sad. At this point, I think we move on.”
But one thing is certain he says, the reversed penalty call didn’t have an impact on his team or the game.
“So we don’t use that momentum to say that because of that [VAR call] we didn’t win,” Cabrera said. “No. No. We have to create better chances, we have to be better with the ball, and we have to create, and we have to try to score. We did it, but it wasn’t sharp.”