Drilling down on: Portland 0, at Houston 0
Troy Perkins and a resolute Portland Timbers defense stood in the way of a second straight home victory for the Houston Dynamo.
Man of the Match: As 0-0 score lines sometimes indicate, the match was ultimately a test of defensive stamina. Houston Dynamo right back Jermaine Taylor grew in influence as the game wore on. A timely intervention late in the second half preserved the Dynamo’s clean sheet. Taylor also sparked several attacking sequences from deep downfield. He may not be a natural outside back, but he sure looked like one tonight.
Packaged for takeaway:
- The Dynamo are coming off a grueling run of fixtures that includes three games in seven days. The rigors of the congested schedule seemed to have had an effect on some of the players’ performances tonight. Brad Davis was at his creative norm early on, but ran out of gas around the hour mark. Despite the fatigue, the team closed out the match strong, albeit without a goal.
- It was the opposite scenario for Portland in terms of build-up. John Spencer’s side arrived at BBVA Compass Stadium following a 10-day layoff and looked fresh from the start. The team relied on quick transitions and short lateral passes. The attack never quite seemed to come together, however, despite the best efforts of nippy forward Darlington Nagbe. Portland found some success out wide, but too many crosses were left unattended.
- Portland outside back Steven Smith had a very serviceable outing. Smith’s accurate service from open play and set pieces was one of the Timbers’ most potent – if not fully maximized - weapons on the night.
- Wastefulness in front of goal wasn’t just Portland’s problem; the Dynamo also struggled to finish off promising chances. Troy Perkins’ goal area hosted several hard-fought aerial battles, but the Dynamo’s ensuing headers were typically off target.
- Calen Carr produced a near-man of the match performance. The audacious right-sided midfielder put in a shift on both ends of the ball. Around the 70th minute, Dominic Kinnear instructed Carr to share forward duties with Brian Ching. The late switch seemed to reinvigorate the Dynamo’s attack, even though the all-important goal remained elusive.
- Mamadou Danso and center back partner Hanyer Mosquera defended deep and did well to limit the Dynamo’s chances in front of goal. Danso achieved persona non grata status in the 80th minute, however, when he appeared to hack down Carr on the edge of the penalty area. The match official judged that Danso had indeed gotten some of the ball, but the partisan crowd certainly voiced its disapproval.
- Speaking of which, the Dynamo faithful came out in full force. It was the second game and first night match at newly-christened BBVA Compass Stadium. The unseasonably cool weather served as a nice contrast to Saturday’s warm conditions. The lack of goals didn’t appear to dampen the atmosphere one bit.
- Both coaches can come away pleased, if not fully satisfied with their teams’ performances. The Dynamo coped well with players’ undeniable fatigue. Portland stood its ground but couldn’t produce the killer pass or shot on the other end. Really, the only thing missing from this one was goals.