Houston 1-1 FC Dallas - Bad call by ref still doesn't excuse all the missed chances
In ESPN's continuing effort to deprive soccer fans of the chance to actually watch scheduled events, the sports network pre-emptied the first half of last nights outing due to an overtime basketball game. I understand the need to show the basketball game, but why not throw the MLS match over to ESPN Classic or is the viewing audience for a 15 year old, middle-weight boxing match really so great that it would be a crime to do such a thing?
Anyway, to the game itself. Houston spent most of the first half looking like the team that won the last two MLS Cups with Stuart Holden and Bobby Boswell both having a standout game. The team caused trouble for Dallas all over the pitch, but they could not get that final touch till Brian Ching got on the end of a perfect Craig Waibel cross. Still, with the way FCD played in the first half, Houston has no excuse for not being up by two or more.
The second half saw FCD switch from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2, which closed down a lot of Houston's attack, at least for a little while, and allowed Toja more freedom and created open spaces, which Kenny Cooper exploited for his excellent goal in the 62'.
Then came a call so horrible it really killed the excitement of the game for me. Holden broke loss and was running right at Dallas's goal when Pablo Ricchetti brought him down from behind. Let's see, Ricchetti was the last defender, it was a scoring opportunity and Ricchetti did not come anywhere near playing the ball. This is the easiest red card to give but Kevin Stott failed to deliver. Had Stott gone by what the rules say, the final 15-minutes of this game probably would have been very different.
Even though the Dynamo were cheated, they still cannot blame this one mistake for their failure to earn all three points as they had at least two easy chances early in the second half that should have put the game out of reach.
By the way, I'm sure FCD fans will point to the failure of Stott to call another foul later as an excuse for his earlier blown call. Late in the game (I think it was the 90'), Boswell appeared to clip Dominic Oduro from behind under similar circumstance to Holden's event (except Boswell was actually trying to play the ball). The only problem with this argument is if Stott had made the red card call earlier, this play probably would not have happened. That said, Stott should have called a foul, but did not, probably as a makeup call.
This tie means the Western Conference continues to live in chaos with just 5 points separating first from sixth. It also means Houston now has seven ties, which is the same amount that had all of last season.
HD: Brian Ching (6) 21'
FCD: Kenny Cooper (8) 62'
Att: 16,933 (including about 30 FCD fans)