HOUSTON, Texas – After the match Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear was asked if he’d ever seen a match when the same team was awarded two penalties in less than two minutes. Not surprisingly, he hadn’t.
"Same player, commits both fouls? No I’ve never seen anything like that," said Kinnear. "I know the first penalty was 100 percent; the second penalty I haven’t seen the replay of it but I’ve heard there was contact. I thought that somehow a little bit of luck shone upon us, but we put ourselves in the position to get those calls so it wasn’t just complete luck."
Two penalties in a span of less than two minutes were the difference between Salt Lake starting the season with 6 points and the Dynamo getting their first win of the season. Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis had barely caught his breath from his first penalty goal after RSL defender Jamison Olave brought down Geoff Cameron, when he found himself once again standing at the penalty spot with a chance to put the Dynamo ahead.
"My strategy was just to be confident and step up and hit the kicks with power," Brad Davis said. "Rimando usually guesses on where you’re gonna go so I just wanted to smash it high. Even if he guesses, just hit it strong with pace and even if he gets a touch, it will still probably go in."
Olave, who was not shown a card on the first penalty, tripped Luis Angel Landin roughly two minutes after his foul on Cameron and received a yellow from referee Jair Maruffo. It was a wild turn of events that clearly left Salt Lake frustrated after they had gone into the half with a one goal advantage.
Houston was clearly frustrated in the first half by Salt Lake's speed and creative passing that saw RSL dominate possession. Credit to Kinnear and the Dynamo for making the right adjustments at halftime. Houston looked like a different team in the second half, spending less time trying to beat RSL over the top with long balls and more time building their attack through the midfield. The Dynamo’s relentless pressure at the start of the second half had Salt Lake on their heels and improved movement from Geoff Cameron and Luis Angel Landin helped create the penalty opportunities.
Despite the victory, the Dynamo will have to deal with the loss of star forward Brian Ching, who left the match in the 30th minute with a hamstring strain. Kinnear didn’t have a lot of information about Ching’s injury in his post-match press conference.
"I really couldn’t tell you," the coach said when asked about a timeframe for Ching's return. "I know it’s a hamstring but other than that we’ll find out more. I wish I knew more, but he [Ching] said he felt it pretty good."
Kinnear made it clear that Ching’s potential absence will open the door for others to step in a take advantage of the playing time. The most likely choice to fill the role is Luis Angel Landin, who subbed in after Ching left the match and played well for the Dynamo. His ability to play in tight space and hold up the ball helped Houston overcome RSL’s early midfield dominance and his effort in the box earned the Dynamo their second penalty of the night.
Houston hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday while Real Salt Lake heads back to Rio Tinto Stadium to host Seattle Sounders FC in their home opener next Saturday as well.
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