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Houston Dynamo home opener spoiled by 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake

Mar 2, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Fans pose for a picture outside of BBVA Compass Stadium before the Houston Dynamo play against Real Salt Lake. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo rallied for a 1-1 tie against Real Salt Lake Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, but the Houston team left a lot to be desired.

The Dynamo are usually pretty good in home openers with an overall record of 7-2-5 and 6-0-2 at BBVA Compass Stadium. But this game seemed not to be up to par for what the squad usually puts out on the field.

The scoreline could have been a result of the back-to-back games in the Concacaf Champions League, questionable calls from the refs, first MLS home game jitters. Only time will tell, plus the 2019 MLS season is just starting so no needs to panic – yet.

Despite the result, forward Mauro Manotas once more showed his scoring capabilities with an equalizer that saved his team from defeat. 

“It’s what I am here for to score goals, that’s what I stayed for and for that they renewed me if I get a ball I have to put it the net. I had two and I put one in, so I have to keep working,” Manotas said after the game.

Although Manotas said he was content with his team’s work on the field, he believes the squad as a whole was affected by playing in the midweek, while Real Salt Lake came to BBVA Compass Stadium well rested. But his biggest frustration was reserved for the officials after Matias Vera was sent off following his second bookable offense in the 81st minute. 

“Today coach rotated the formation and I think it was a good match, they [Real Salt Lake] beat us [in the] first 45 minutes, we didn’t enter with the same intensity that we always enter with,” Manotas said. “But the second half was better until the expulsion came and I think that once again the referee had a hand [in the outcome] and he does not whistle here [for the Dynamo], but the most important thing was that we did not lose.”

Manotas, the Dynamo’s only goal-scorer, also added that he was not pleased with the use of Video Assistant Referees in the game especially because it cost his team a win. His teammate, midfielder Boniek García, scored an apparent match-winning goal in the 76th minute after he linked up with forward Alberth Elis.

BBVA erupted with sounds of joy, but referee Armando Villarreal put his finger to his ear and indicated that the play was under Video Review. He raised his arm to indicate an offside call, overturning the goal – silencing the screaming crowd celebrating the score.

“I think that the VARs should not exist, it should not exist in soccer, I think it takes away the flow of soccer, it takes away the spiciness of soccer and I think it’s something extra soccer doesn’t need,” Manotas said.

Boniek Garcia, the Dynamo’s captain, also lamented missing out on a goal that could have led his team to victory, but was more focused on what is coming on Tuesday when the Dynamo face Mexican powerhouse Tigres for the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinalx.

“Immediately thinking [of Tigres], focusing on them, we know that it is a very difficult team,” Garcia said. “We are going to face them with a lot of respect, but we have a great desire to make a great game, we are in our house and we must take advantage of it.”

Playing on short rest early in the season can take its toll on players both mentally and physically, something that Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera is well aware – he had to rotate players against Real Salt Lake ahead of the Tigres showdown.

“We have to think about all the injuries and problems they have been going through,” he said. “DaMarcus Beasley has played professionally for 20 years. His body has aged with games. A.J. DeLaGarza is coming from an ACL injury where he hasn’t played in one year. He’s going through the same thing, a movement that causes pain. I wasn’t planning to play Maynor Figueroa, but he had to play. Why? Because that’s the reality. That’s the situation right now.”

Tigres will be in a similar boat. They defeated Pachuca, 3-0, in Liga MX Saturday night. 

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