All posts by sonchyenne

Houston Comes Home To Tough Lessons From LAFC

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo have some serious lessons to learn about consistency and LAFC came to town on Friday night to provide a master class. Going into the match, the Dynamo were undefeated at home, but this record doesn’t speak to the disappointing rash of recent road losses; Houston desperately needed to bring fans a win at home both to maintain the streak and shore up the fading confidence of internal and external stakeholders.

Sadly, the result of the match – a 3-1 loss – brought no relief to Houston players or fans, and the only thing left to do is learn from the lessons that LAFC taught and hope that this will mark the turnaround of the 2019 season. 

Houston’s Starting XI was absolutely the flagship effort from this team and had every piece that fans and pundits deemed lacking in previous weeks’ losses. 

Houston had all four Hondurans starting – forward playmakers Elis and Quioto, clutch defender Figueroa, and captain Boniek Garcia in the middle. Lundkvist and Struna shored up the back line, and the (undeserved) defensive scapegoat Garcia was on the bench. This should have been the recipe for absolute victory for the men in orange. 

Conversely, LAFC’s lineup was a snapshot of their depth. Having played their starters just 48 hours earlier in a loss against the Timbers in the US Open Cup quarterfinal, 9 of 11 men were replaced in the starting lineups between Wednesday and Friday.

LA let Houston dominate the first half, conceding a goal from Romell Quioto just 3 minutes in, and it looked like their depth squad was going to have similar disappointing results as the Dynamo’s depth in the last several matches. Houston had multiple chances at goal and, were it not for some late defending against Alberth Elis in the box, the first half could have easily been 4-0 for Houston. The lessons for Houston began in the dying moments of the first half when LA’s Diomande cut loose to tie things up at 1 going into the half. 

The view up the right side – AJ DeLaGarza, Tomas Martinez, and Alberth Elis line up to battle LAFC. Photo Credit: Leslie Chairez

Just as the Dynamo were up minutes into the first half, LAFC came out strong and found themselves up by one early in the second. And while LA showed the Dynamo how to push through a deficit in the first half, Houston did not follow suit and began to fall apart after Diomande’s second goal in the 49th minute. Houston’s comeback chances took another blow when LA brought in superstars Blessing and Rossi early in the 2nd.

While they had more offensive chances, Houston’s errors in the midfield and defense kept them too busy in their own half to stage a comeback. Rossi’s goal in the 88th minute was a final nail in the coffin for Houston but also a moment that many fans in the stadium had come to see. 

LAFC came to Houston and played their depth, looking just like a first team. If the Dynamo can figure out how to duplicate that consistency across changes in lineup, they may find the turnaround that the squad so desperately needs.  A 3-1 loss at home cuts deep in Houston, but the Dynamo are back on the road again to Atlanta this Wednesday.

Featured image:  Leslie Chairez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Houston Dynamo’s Road Woes Continue in Cincinnati

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Not that long ago, the Houston Dynamo gave the hometown crowd a play-off worthy performance against the Red Bulls. This was especially necessary as they had just come off a rash of road losses that left fans dejected.

Houston players didn’t even have time to celebrate the win, as they immediately got back on the road to Cincinnati. This was expected to be an easy reintroduction to road points, as Cincy sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The road woes returned with tenacity, however, as the Dynamo fell to FC Cincinnati 3-2 on Saturday night.  

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo Twitter

Sometimes I worry that my articles are more prophetic than observation. Recently, I have discussed the Dynamo’s propensity to allow setbacks that effect their play and highlighted that the team must stop placing their success on one key player’s shoulders. These two factors certainly came together to play their parts in Houston’s loss.

Cincinnati came out swinging with several hard knocks against the Dynamo in the first five minutes. Challenges during these early moments are unlikely to draw cards out of referees, but are most adept at lighting the pilots of the Houston tempers.

The Dynamo respond to the rough play, and Alberth Elis earns his first yellow less than 20 minutes into the match with defensive enforcer Cabezas earning another just five minutes later. With Houston’s focus rattled, the goals started. Cincy scored twice before the first half was done, and the Dynamo faced the familiar foe of being shut out on the road. 

Another factor in the Dynamo’s struggle was the absence of Maynor Figueroa, the Honduran clutch defender. Unavailable due to a red card, his absence shook the back line. The Dynamo have depth in that center back position, but they seem to be lost any time that Figueroa is out of the lineup. This is an issue that Wilmer Cabrera has got to find a way to turn around within his squad – the loss of one player should absolutely not mean a loss for the team.

Houston did stage a comeback in the last half hour. A combination in the 57th minute was Houston’s first good chance at Cincinnati’s net. The Dynamo conceded one more goal – an embarrassing nutmeg on keeper Joe Willis in the 61st minute – but then the team came alive.

Romell Quioto scored the Dynamo’s first goal with a penalty in the 79th minute, and the intense pressure of Alberth Elis panicked a defender into an own goal in the 81st. In the end, Houston couldn’t find the equalizer and left all points in Cincy. Had Willis maintained the 2-0 lead or had Houston played longer at their potential, the day may have gone differently. 

Fans of the Houston Dynamo get brilliance in flashes. At home, we often get a full match and other times it’s just a few moments on the road. The potential is there, but the coaching staff must continue to demand consistency and accountability from the entire team.

The Houston Dynamo come home again on Friday night to defend their unbeaten record in BBVA Stadium against LAFC. 

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Full Strength Houston Dynamo Come Home With A Vengeance

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

With their full squad back from international duties and back home after a cross-country tour plagued with losses, the Houston Dynamo came to BBVA Stadium on Saturday, June 29, needing a win. The men in orange did not disappoint and stunned the New York Red Bulls with a 4-0 victory. This win maintains the Dynamo’s unbeaten home streak and breaks the winless streak that has plagued them since mid-May.  

Houston’s Starting XI featured the return of Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas up front and Maynor Figueroa in the back, all of whom were expected to shore up the struggles of a June that showed little success on either end of the ball. 

The New York Red Bulls are a great team with a comfortable spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and I really expected a close match. The Dynamo came out with a fire in their bellies, however, and dominated the match from the start. The Red Bulls seemed to really enjoy the efforts of the BBVA grounds crew, as they took many opportunities to get a close look at the grass.

There were plenty of fouls for both sides, but the New York players seemed particularly keen to go to ground. While I was concerned that the constant restarts would affect the flow of the match or that the frustration of the calls would get in the heads of the Dynamo players, the laser focus of Houston was unshakable. 

Whether it was the confidence gained in being back home or having key players back on the pitch, the team that stepped out at BBVA was almost unrecognizable as the team that I watched in June. The players were tough and decisive. The passes were quick and well-placed. The chemistry of the team was amazing for how little time they had to work as a squad ahead of this match. And while I was thrilled with the results and wowed by the level of play, I can’t help but wonder how the team can maintain this level of confidence through the season without shouldering it on just a few individuals. 

The Houston Dynamo must figure out a way to have confidence as a squad and not be crippled by the loss of a key player. GM Matt Jordan is a brilliant scout who has worked hard this year on improving depth, but no amount of bench depth is going to save a team that sees that depth as a supporting cast for a single star. The reality is that introducing stars like Elis and Manotas to MLS may pay off in transfer fees before it pays off in trophies.

Barring any updates from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, the Dynamo will test their confidence again without defensive playmaker Maynor Figueroa in Cincinnati on Saturday. After only one match back from Honduran national duty, he and New York’s Kaku were each sent off after an off-ball conflict in the 94th minute. I expect to be pleasantly surprised by the Dynamo again, and look forward to telling you all about it next week.   

Featured images: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Still Working Out Kinks, Fall to New England After Comeback

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

NEvHOU: 2-1

The Houston Dynamo are deep into a tough summer schedule. After losing in San Jose Wednesday night, they traveled over 3,000 miles to meet the New England Revolution less than sixty hours later. This is their third road match in eight days and they have yet to find the back of the net in the series

Head coach Wilmer Cabrera played serious jazz with the starting lineup. As a coach known for regularly shaking up lines and combinations of players, he was still able to surprise fans with many of his Starting XI decisions against the Revs. 

The fan response on Twitter was a typical barrage of negativity (seriously, don’t read the comments), but Cabrera’s big shake ups have worked before. Chris Duvall got his first MLS start and Michael Salazar, a recent USL transfer, was rewarded for some quality sub-in minutes with a center forward start.

The first 45 minutes of the match were magical for the Houston Dynamo and showed that the lineup changes weren’t the terrible choice that many expected. The Dynamo’s defense was effective, and the Dynamo had good chances in the first half hour.

Romell Quioto launched crosses trying to find Salazar at the far post and while the pairing didn’t pay off directly, a resulting corner kick found defender Darwin Ceren. The defender landed a ball in the back of the net for the game’s first goal in the 25th minute. Houston’s offense dominated the first half, and confidence was high going into the break. 

In an interview at the start of the break, Rev’s coach Bruce Arena recognized their shortcomings and the changes needed in the second half. He must have given New England just the right updated game plan. The Rev’s offense came back with the answer to Houston’s defensive tactics, and the Dynamo were simply not prepared to shift their play.     

With the second half direction switch, New England dominated the same half of the pitch that the Dynamo owned in the first. Corners made the difference for both teams as the Revolution scored off their own corner in the 51st minute.

Milnar was able to get his head up over Kevin Garcia and deflected a stunner of a ball into the net. With the match tied, the Dynamo created some offensive chances between then and the hour mark before conceding control of the match back to the home team.  

Just when it seemed that the Dynamo might find their road point in New England, the exhausted defense got too sloppy in the 91st minute. Adam Lundqvist gave Bunbury too much space in the box, and the Dynamo fell to New England 2-1. 

While the match was a Houston loss, I don’t think it was a total loss for the team. They showed so much promise in the first half, and scoring the first goal of their road series and of the match provided some confidence. Cabrera’s lineup changes have potential and simply need to improve on flexibility and endurance through tactical changes.

The Dynamo have another short break before their next matchup, but they are finally coming home to their newly re-branded BBVA Stadium to host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Dynamo – Fans, Supporters, and a Loss in San Jose

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

San Jose v Houston: 2-0

Soccer fans and pundits alike were quick to dismiss the Houston Dynamo’s early season success the result of an easy schedule. While their MLS schedule was light, they were testing their depth through Open Cup matches and some lingering injuries.

They came out of the first two months of the season with two games in hand, having had an opportunity test and trust the depth that they have attempted to build. As spring turned to summer, the team faltered and the momentum that was built in the first part of the season is struggling to sustain us through a month where our only win has come against a USL team. 

If the early part of the Dynamo season was exceptionally light, the summer months are more than making up for it with a brutal schedule of six away matches out of ten in June and July. Grabbing even one early away point would have been a great way to maintain some momentum and keep the faith of the fans. Sadly, no points were earned in San Jose as the Quakes sealed a solid 2-0 victory on Thursday night.    

The defeat was no one’s fault but the players on the pitch. They had chances to score and made mistakes that cost them goals – no more and no less. Every stakeholder – players, coaching staff, management, and fans – is now left to sit with another loss and wonder what comes next. 

Readers may have noticed by now – my MLSFemale articles aren’t the typical play-by-play reviews that are found on many media outlets. In fact, I often struggle to remember to include the scores in some of my articles! Because I was a supporter long before I was writing about the team, I refuse to leave that part of me behind when it’s writing time.

Many people on social media are quick to call out the familiar scapegoats; #BrenerOut is all over as are complaints about Kevin Garcia, but I don’t buy it. Owners are owners, and Garcia is a player that has had more good plays this season than bad as I see it.

If we want to talk about mistakes in San Jose, I’m more likely to call out favorites like Boniek Garcia and Adam Lundqvist for bad passes and touches in the midfield. And I believe that if I had the opportunity to ask my guys in orange, they would say the same.

Individuals have bad games and good games, but we win or lose AS. A. TEAM. I know that I reference him often in my articles, but my Dynamo Twitter King puts it perfectly.  

We are all in this together, and I believe that this is where we draw the line between fans and supporters for the Houston Dynamo. Are you there to watch, revel in victory, and complain in defeat? Or are you there to bleed Orange despite the results?

I’m in it, no matter what, until the end of the season every season. And I’m happy to share my views on the match and my team after every match with MLSFemale readers. You’ll hear from me again after the Dynamo travel to battle New England this Saturday.   

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Dynamo Pack Up Their Struggles, Visit Portland

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston v Minnesota: 2-3, Houston v Portland: 0-4

The Dynamo exited the US Open Cup competition last week after a loss to Minnesota. In that match, Houston went into the second half with a 2-0 lead, but their defense faltered in the last half hour. The Loons took advantage, and the Dynamo walked away with a 3-2 loss. 

After that disappointment Houston turned their full attention to the MLS season and kicked off a brutal three match, cross-country road series in Portland.

Cabrera’s lineup in Portland left the offensive line untouched but brought back his standard starting defenders – DaMarcus Beasley, AJ DeLaGarza, and Kiki Struna. It was a lineup that has pulled the Dynamo through its best MLS start so far this season, but one that hadn’t been together in orange for almost three weeks.

Despite the break, it seemed that both Cabrera and the offense put a significant amount of trust in this veteran back line, as the entire match seemed to be waiting for them to set the pace with counterattacks. 

Portland is a fast team. The Dynamo tried to slow that play down, but their tactics simply weren’t enough to manage the match. They would put together two or three quick passes in the midfield, send the ball to the back line, and then turnover as they attempted to re-advance. While the Dynamo have been lethal with this counterattack in the past, it simply was not the strategy that was needed in this match. 

Half an hour into the match, once it was clear which team was coming in on the front foot in this pairing, the mistakes began. Houston forwards were caught offside, defenders left Timbers out of range but onside, and bad touches started chipping away at the Dynamo’s chances and confidence. 

While the officiating wasn’t the main culprit in this match, PROreferee Alan Kelly had his share of interesting moments. As Portland’s Valeri squared up against Joe Willis for the PK that would result in the second Timber’s goal, Kelly became fixated on the placement of Willis’s cleats on the line. Willis is a seasoned professional, was placed correctly, and there was no call for the scrutiny or interference. Even SKC fans, who are usually no friends of the Dynamo, took notice!

Kelly also took a particular interest in Dielna’s shin guards when the Timbers subbed him in at the 83rd minute. These are matters for U10 recreational refs and had little business interrupting Saturday’s match. 

In the end, Portland came away with a stunning 4 -0 victory over Houston. It’s difficult as a fan and a writer to cover matches like this. It’s easier when the blame is on bad officiating or unlucky shots. Against Portland, however, the Dynamo were truly outplayed. Their goals were excellent and born from great speed, passing, and technique. But smart fans know that setbacks  like this don’t have to be a trend.

The Dynamo finished the 2018 season with a trophy and have started this season strong. Losses will come, but the Houston Dynamo have got to shake them off and carry on. Houston’s next chance to prove their lessons learned comes Wednesday in San Jose. 

Featured image: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Undefeated At Home, Dynamo Still Have WORK To Do

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston Dynamo v. Sporting Kansas City 1-1

Every soccer fan knows that there are some ties that feel like wins and others that seem like losses. The Houston Dynamo’s draw on Saturday keeps them undefeated at home, but many fans left the match wanting more. In a game where Houston saw the return of their Honduran playmakers in the front and back, the midfield that has created so many successful counter attacks was nowhere to be found.  

The SKC rivalry has always been contentious, and since the Dallas rivalry is often conflated pre-match trash talk and post-match bickering, I feel like the SKC rivalry is the one that is most truly felt among the players. This matchup is always physical, but Sporting definitely came in looking to break the rules. At one point SKC’s Melia even came out of the goal box to the penalty spot to take a goal kick, and the official may have let it slide had Tomas Martinez not drawn so much attention. The broadcast showed a quick clip of Martinez’s protest near the 15 minute mark, but there was no other mention of the issue in the broadcast.

The pairing to watch for this opinionated writer was no doubt Alberth Elis and AJ DeLaGarza on Houston’s right side. They spent most of the first half failing to communicate and missing key passes to and from one another. They were each visibly frustrated, and one of my only tweets from the match offered a crowdsourced solution.

This was difficult to watch as these are undoubtedly my two favorite players on the pitch. I love Elis’s speed, skill, and the fact that his stats show a spirit of teamwork, with as much effort in assists as goals. AJ is the personable workhorse whose commitment to his family and charity work on social media builds the kind of goodwill that the Dynamo need to win fans’ hearts – the team’s JJ Watt, if you will.

The right side confusion was perfectly illustrated in the 27th minute when DeLaGarza came forward to support and somehow ended up ahead of Elis and battling defenders in Kansas City’s box. Elis, who had shaken his defenders and found space, was begging for a pass. However in his success against SKC’s defense, DeLaGarza couldn’t draw his gaze up to Elis, and finally lost possession to a two-man challenge.   

The Dynamo were down after a silly mistake when Lundquist was surprised by a run in the 63rd by SKC’s Croizet. Shortly after, my starcrossed players finally got it together in the 69th minute, and the beauty of their pairing was amazing. Maynor Figueroa sent a long ball up and across to DeLaGarza, who headed it to Elis’s feet just outside of the box. A beautiful shot through ill-prepared defenders tied it up for Houston and secured the draw.

AJ DeLaGarza and Alberth Elis celebrate their success on the right side.
Photo: Leslie Chairez

At the end of the match, the Dynamo remained undefeated at home and are still in the top 5 of their conference with games in hand. As many players leave for international duty over the next two weeks (including Elis to Honduras and DeLaGarza to Guam), Houston will again seek success in their depth to begin defending the US Open Cup on June 11. Houston then faces a brutal cross-country, 3 match road stint through the end of June.

Featured image: Leslie Chairez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Dynamo Can’t Find Points at Minnesota’s Allianz Field

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston Dynamo v Minnesota United: 0-1

I spent most of Saturday at a kids’ 5v5 soccer tournament watching my stepson referee. 5v5 is an interesting and fun setup to watch, especially when you’re not invested in either team. One of the tournament rules identifies a line delineating the offensive third on each side of the pitch.

The offside rule states that a single player must control the ball over the line; the ball cannot be passed forward from one player to another over the line. Teams can pass outside of their offensive third and can pass or cross while players are inside, but no pass can cross the offensive third line. Like any offside offense, the opposing team is awarded a free kick from the point where the ball was passed over the line.

It’s a recreational tournament, so while most teams are formed out of competitive leagues, no professional coaches are allowed. It’s amazing that teams show up at this tournament without reading or understanding this important rule.

One early match included a boys’ pre-academy U10 team that had missed the memo about the offside rule. The first half was frustrating for everyone as my stepson blew his whistle almost constantly, and both the coaches and the parents were questioning his calls.

He tried to quickly explain the rules to the kids, coaches, and parents without affecting the play. During the half, he was able to take a little more time to explain so that everyone understood and the second half went more smoothly.

I had the chance to watch the same team play again later in the afternoon and was amazed at the difference. In a matter of hours and with only one more game in the meantime, the boys had completely revamped their tactics and had mastered the new formation, going on to dominate their bracket and come in second overall for their age group.

What does this have to do with my Saturday night and the Houston Dynamo’s match against Minnesota United? For the second time that day, I watched a team dropped into a situation where the formation and method of play was unfamiliar. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, they weren’t able to make the tactical changes necessary to find success up North.

The Dynamo were able to manage lineup changes to win their last match, but the continued absence of Hondurans Alberth Elis and Maynor Figueroa proved unsustainable on Saturday night. Houston was still able to make an impressive show, dominating both possession and passing statistics.

But, statistics don’t win matches and a lucky cross-turned-bender from Minnesota’s Romain Metanire was the game winning difference between the squads. Houston lined up chance after chance but could not convert shots into shots on goal, and more importantly were unable to find the back of the net through the 90′.

The Dynamo coaches and players have got to take a lesson from the U10’s that I watched and find cohesion that supersedes formation. Their offensive and defensive play-makers should hopefully return soon, but the team has got to stop depending on individuals or pairs and find a consistency of play as a team.

Nothing but time will tell if this lesson is sinking in, and fans have their next chance to see them back at home on June 1 against Sporting KC.

Featured image: Web Tilton

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Dynamo Dig Into Depth, Come Up With Three Points

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston Dynamo best D.C. United, 2-1

The Honduran influence on the Houston Dynamo is undeniable. The team has leaned heavily on the camaraderie and cohesion of their Honduran recruits in the last couple of years, but Saturday night’s match against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United required Houston to mix up its lineup and call on their depth outside of the Catrachos sphere.

Maynor Figueroa, the club’s newest Honduran player, received the news at the end of Wednesday night’s match that his father had lost his battle with cancer. A veteran defender, fans expected him to be a backup in support of some of our younger center-backs, but Figueroa has been a powerful force starting in 13 matches so far this season.

The team paid tribute to Figueroa’s father with black armbands and a special team photo ahead of the match. His absence against D.C. was the first hurdle Houston’s lineup would face.

Fans were thrilled Saturday to see our two Honduran forwards – Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis – finally paired up again in the lineup. This excitement was short lived, however, as Elis took a hard knock less than a minute into the match that led to his removal. Homegrown player Memo Rodriguez replaced him in the eleventh minute.  

The Dynamo defense managed well in the first half, their offense lined up chance after chance but were not able to finish, and the first half ended with a no goal tie.

The second half started seemingly before the Dynamo defense was ready, as Wayne Rooney took advantage of too much space and scored in the 46th minute. The Houston defense woke up after that and held DC United to the single goal while the offense continued to work to find a payoff from several chances.

Searching for an answer to the finish, Coach Wilmer Cabrera pulled our remaining Honduran forward out of the match just past the hour mark. Tommy McNamara replaced Romell Quioto in the 66th minute, and the match pace changed completely.

The Dynamo found the goal they had been looking for in the 67th minute from early sub Memo Rodriguez. And just one minute later, the second substitution paid off with Tommy Mac scoring his first Dynamo goal with a show of pure will, battling United’s Hamid for a cross at the far post and joining the ball in the back of the net.

Photo Credit: Leslie Chairez

While the Dynamo are having an amazing start to 2019 and are still undefeated at home, this match is a landmark in the squad’s season. Lingering questions around their depth were answered and the men in orange proved that personnel changes in any of their lines can be mastered.

Even the unfortunate loss of our playmaker Alberth Elis was managed, which may be important as many expect to see him traded in the summer transfer window. The boost of securing three points against the top team in the Eastern Conference is just what Houston needed.

Hopefully, the Dynamo will take this confidence with them on the road as we visit Minnesota next Saturday night.   

Featured image: @Its_Leslieeeee

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

 

Dynamo and Timbers Draw, 1-1, In Houston

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo and the Portland Timbers are two of the most intense clubs currently playing in MLS. Houston is an underrated squad on a hot-streak with a lot to prove, while Portland is an MLS late model flagship that had a rough start to the 2019 season, frantic to regain status.

When two groups like this meet, especially in the steamy humidity of a late spring Houston evening, tempers rise with the temperature and teams often play powderkeg matches just waiting for a spark.

The match was predictably physical, and the Dynamo once again showed off their offensive dominance in the first half. Portland’s defenders were pushing hard, but the Dynamo were relentless. The incessant Dynamo offense paid off in the 40th minute when Mauro Manotas scored his sixth goal of the season.

The Timbers’s number 4 defender, Jorge Villafaña, stuck to Houston’s Alberth Elis in the early part of the match with aggressive tactics I haven’t seen since the dance floor at my last college party. His handsy defense moved on to cover Boniek Garcia later in the half which would be the spark that this match was waiting for.

Of all of the players on the Dynamo roster, Oscar Boniek Garcia is known for his likability and consistently happy demeanor. The Honduran native is known to play with a smile on his face, so the early signs of hostility toward the Timbers were apparent to most fans around the stadium.

His usual sportsmanlike play was replaced with rough challenges and post-drop stare-downs. As the captain’s patience faded, the rest of the team seemed to match his mood and the play on the field began to show lots of strain.

Even the halftime break was not enough to cool tempers for the Portland or Houston players as the rough play continued with the start of the second half whistle.

At 50 minutes, after a tough challenge in the midfield left Dynamo player Tomas Martinez on the pitch, Portland denied to play the ball out while he recovered. This led to lots of words and more than a few shoves exchanged between several of the players, but no cards were issued as a result of the dust up.

Contentious matches like this one should be controlled by the officials, who can maintain fairness and hold players to a reasonable standard. In this match, the players and the match were in the hands of well-known referee Ted Unkel.

The eccentric officiating favored both and neither teams at different points in the match, and Unkel ultimately concluded the match with no radio after tossing it to the sideline late in the second half.

Portland leveled the match shortly after a 65th minute substitution brought on their recent Argentinian acquisition Brian Fernández, and the match concluded with the 1-1 draw. While both teams played desperately for all three points, I consider the match to be a lucky draw – the real win being both teams walking away with no serious injuries and no disciplinary suspensions.

The Dynamo’s depth will be tested again at their third match in eight days against D.C. United on Saturday at home.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale