On a night in Houston so hot it required mandatory hydration breaks, the Houston Dynamo beat the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on a Chaco Maidana free kick golazo at the death.
In a story that’s familiar to every Philadelphia sports fan, a former member of the team came back to haunt his old team. Following a totally boneheaded foul by Warren Creavalle at the top of the Union box in the last minute of the game, Cristian Maidana hit a free kick over the wall, bending it to the left corner. Andre Blake had no shot at it as it hit the back of the net and sent the lowly Dynamo to their first win in five matches.
Union First XI: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Yaro, Rosenberry; Carroll, Creavalle; Pontius, Barnetta, Ilsinho, Alberg
Dynamo First XI: Deric; Anibaba, Horst, Rodriguez, Beasley; Warner, Barnes, Clark, Alex, Garcia; Bruin
Lacking a healthy forward, the Union opted to go with a false nine look. It was obvious they hadn’t played with the look this year a lot as spacing and runs got confused and opportunities were squandered. The U came to life at the hour mark when CJ Sapong came in and they went to their more familiar single forward set, but could not trouble Houston keeper Tyler Deric.
I wish I could tell you the Union fought the good fight and the Dynamo let them be, but MLS is no fairy tale world. At most, the Union would have come away with a single point on the night; they only managed a couple shots on goal and looked for stretches like the inferior side, despite the disparity in standings between them and the Dynamo. To compound things, Joshua Yaro picked up a yellow card in just the second minute, and then picked up a second one in the 87th minute on an obvious flop by Manotas, and was sent off. Down a man, the Union pushed on but could not find a goal before conceding what would be the game-winner.
The Union will have to rebound next Saturday at home versus D.C. The boys in blue are now 0-4-3 against teams from the West, and the only good thing I can say about that is they only have three more games against teams from the West in the regular season.
None of the three former Union men (Maidana, Andrew Wenger, or Sheanon Williams) on the Dynamo started, but Maidana and Wenger both made substitute appearances.
A note on Maidana: the Union didn’t send him to Houston this off-season because they thought he was a bad player, they sent him out because what he did as a player didn’t fit into what they were looking to do as a team. It would be different if they undervalued him, but that’s not the case.
This is at least the second easily-recallable time this year where a bad Warren Creavalle foul has seemingly led to lost points for the Union. If you recall, Warren went into a questionable challenge in the monsoon game in Chicago and was ejected; four minutes later and a man up now, Chicago scored the goal which won it, 1-0.
The only positives I took from this are Andre Blake continues to be stellar and CJ Sapong looks good after a month on the shelf with an ankle injury. They’ll need both as they continue to push for points in what amounts to the last half of the season now.