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Houston Dynamo concede two goals in stoppage time to Real Salt Lake in a 2-1 loss

The Dynamo conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 at home to Real Salt Lake (Thomas B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON – A problem that has plagued the Houston Dynamo on the road this season — conceding goals late in games — made its way to BBVA Compass Stadium as the Orange lose 2-1 to Real Salt Lake in front of 15,072 fans. 

Houston headed into stoppage time nursing a 1-0 lead but Real Salt Lake, as they did for most of the game, was unwavering and relentless in their attack and were rewarded with two goals from Albert Rusnak.

Real Salt Lake had 25 shots total with nine on target compared to Houston’s 12 shots, and three on target. From the whistle, it was clear Real Salt Lake wanted to press the issue, while Houston looked lackadaisical and lacking ideas in the attack. 

Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said his side worked hard all week to make sure they would play a good game and get all three points. 

“We didn’t do either of the two. We didn’t play well and we didn’t get the three points,” Cabrera said. “It’s my responsibility and I’ll take full responsibility because it’s not normal that today we play that bad.”

Cabrera added that his side couldn’t combine passes, and in general never found the rhythm of the game. 

Dynamo midfielder Darwin Ceren said the first half was a total disaster for the Dynamo. 

But despite being outplayed Houston would take an early 1-0 lead. And lady luck would get the assist. 

Romell Quioto stepped up to take a free kick just outside the box. He blasted it but it bounced off the Real Salt Lake wall. The rebound came towards Boniek Garcia who volleyed a shot towards goal but his effort deflected off Real Salt Lake defender Nick Besler and go into the back of the net. 

Despite the ball being deflected, the goal was awarded to Garcia. It’s his first goal since 2015. Garcia is also the longest-tenured player on the Dynamo roster. 

Real Salt Lake, however, found the rhythm quick but had to wait to be rewarded for a goal.

In the 93rd minute, Real Salt Lake forward Albert Rusnak — who entered the game in the 39th minute for an injured Pablo Ruiz — got the ball at the top of the box. He created space for himself before letting it rip. The ball hit the inside of the right post and stayed in for the tying goal. The goal not only vindicated Real Salt Lake for their play on the night but also Rusnak, who hit the post earlier in the game. 

The late goal is a microcosm of the Dynamo this season, who have conceded 11 goals after the 80th minute. 

Ceren said the team’s late collapses could perhaps be attributed to nerves and that the team needs to have more concentration at the end of the game. He added that the team knows that it has given up late goals that have led to drop points. 

Rusnak was not done. In the 97th minute, Real Salt Lake substitute Sebastian Saucedo tried to get by Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley. He faked going to the right before going left and tripping over Beasley’s feet. 

The referee, Armando Villareal, immediately pointed to the spot. But the call wasn’t without controversy. Villareal checked with VAR to confirm that it was, in fact, a penalty. Rusnak stepped up and converted the penalty in the 100th minute. 

The stoppage time goal matched the lastest goal scored in Major League Soccer history in regulation time. 

After the game, Villareal was asked about the penalty call by the pool reporter. The referee liaison, after receiving the answers from Villareal, gave the answers as follows:

What did the VAR see on the penalty call?

“As per league rules, we are unable to answer any questions regarding VAR.”

What did you see on the foul?

“The defender made contact with the attacker, committing a tripping foul.”

When you looked at the review, did you see anything different than what you saw on the field?

“See answer to question no. 1.”

Follow-up: From the position you were in, could you see the contact that the contact was made by the defender?

“Yes.”

Follow-up: In previous games, such calls have not been given as a penalty. What kind of contact on this foul merited the penalty call?

“The defender made contact with the attacker, committing a tripping foul.”

After the game, Cabrera called his team’s late-game performance embarrassing. 

“We couldn’t defend. We couldn’t even defend well throughout the game, the whole game and it’s something that is affecting us throughout the whole season,” Cabrera said. “In the last five, ten minutes of the games we are winning, and we finish losing so that’s my responsibility no matter what.”

Houston could have prevented the loss if they had scored another goal, and the Orange had two clear opportunities to do so. 

In the 62nd minute when Tomas Martinez sent a pass to Mauro Manotas on the right wing. The Colombian striker picked out Quioto who was streaking into the box, but his shot would hit the top of the post. 

Quioto would have another opportunity minutes later. Martinez, who was at the top of the box, slipped in a pass to Quioto with the Honduran having only Putna to beat. Quioto opted for a low shot but Putna read it all the way. 

Quioto would get subbed not too long after that miss and his frustration was evident as we came off the field. 

“We weren’t sharp. That situation for (forward) Romell (Quioto) almost underneath the goal and kicking the ball out over the crossbar it’s a clear shot at,” Cabrera said. “It going to be, it wasn’t a good day for us. But the problem is that it’s not a good day for one or two, today was not a good day for all 11 players.”

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