What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
That was, in a word, disappointing. But late losses like those are always that way, and this one is no exception. It was a night when our spectacular goalkeeper saved the match over and over again, but when it came to the end of affairs, a momentary lapse and some poor positional defending did us in.
Was it harsh? Certainly. Does it speak badly about our performance overall? That's a harder question. The performance — 85 to 90 percent of it, at least — was at the very least sufficient. The remaining 10 to 15 percent — roughly 5 percent for not scoring a goal, and 5 to 10 percent for conceding a last-minute penalty, if I'm to advance unrealistic, meaningless numbers (as I usually do.)
It's a hard one to take, a bit. We had three very good chances (Borchers, Grabavoy, Espindola) that were saved by the very capable Tally Hall, and on the road, creating more than three clear-cut chances — for nearly any side in MLS, if I'm to be fair here — is basically out of the question. Which isn't to say it doesn't happen, but with a less-stellar goalkeeping performance from Houston, we might have seen three points and a strong win.
Alas, if wishes were horses, and if ifs and buts were candies and nuts … well, I suppose that means we'd be eating horses for Christmas, so maybe I've shoehorned these two metaphors together a bit ungracefully. Or is that disgracefully? I'm never really sure.
Tactically, the match was a fascinating one. Houston — typically averaging upwards of 55 percent possession per match — abandoned all pressure on the edge of the half, leading RSL to pick up something around 58 percent possession. It was a clear tactical decision from the Dynamo: Let us keep the ball, clog passing lanes, and wait for a break. Now, that break came very, very late — but in the end, their plan worked. Or is that a sign their plan didn't work? It's a tricky one, but we came very close to keeping a point or even winning three of them.
Chris Schuler made his triumphant return, and for that, I am quite pleased. He was solid in defense, keeping the right-sided attack largely at bay, doing well in the tackle and generally finding himself in the right defensive positions. As always, he does lack a bit in attack on the flanks, and this was particularly true last night — I suspect he knew he was likely to go 90 minutes and played a more conservative game to keep his fitness at an acceptable level.
Jonny Steele, for his part, did well, too, getting back in the tackle and making some good short passes to continue play. It wasn't exactly overwhelming from the guy, but his defensive effort was much-needed, and helped to keep things level as long as they were. On a night like last night, I don't see much room to criticize him more than any other player.
It was also interesting to see Emiliano Bonfigli in for the second half. The Argentine had some good moments, found a couple excellent passes, and nearly could have changed the game — but he didn't. Not quite. It was a substitution I didn't entirely get, I must admit, but Emiliano did bring some good energy to the affair. Maybe that's why we saw him. Again, I'm really not certain here.
Anyhow, I could harp on about this one for ages, but I won't. It was, in the end, a rather unlucky loss, and I don't see how deconstructing that relentlessly might change that fact.