The Houston Dynamo seemed a bit unconditioned to the heat at Thursday's match against Real Salt Lake at BBVA Compass Stadium. Perhaps it was fatigue, as the Dynamo were playing their sixth match in 20 days.
Another dynamic could have been the flu that was going around the Dynamo locker room this week.
"There's something going around right now," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said during the post-game conference. "It's rife in our locker room, and we have a couple of guys not here and a couple of guys on the field playing with it.
"It's a little bit of a flu bug, as far as I know. A stomach virus that makes everything kind of liquid that comes out of you, if that makes sense."
Dr. Kinnear's diagnosis of the bug may be up for debate, but what isn't is the job the Dynamo did in their 1-0 win over powerhouse RSL. The team was already short players who were away for World Cup Qualifiers: Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Andre Hainault (Canada), Jermaine Taylor and Je Vaughn Watson (both with Jamaica). The bug caused Brian Ownby and Nathan Sturgis to be inactive, and Brian Ching was on the bench but was never really a viable option.
Brad Davis, who was denied a goal from the penalty spot in the 75th minute, played the entire match with the flu-like symptoms. Defender Bobby Boswell, who was the only true defender on the Dynamo game day roster last night, only lasted 74 minutes before he had to come off because of the flu. His substitute, Cam Weaver, was also battling the bug.
Both teams were able to create enough chances to win the match, but both goalkeepers put on a stellar performance. Houston's Tally Hall denied RSL twice in the second half. In the 79th minute, Nat Borchers headed a corner kick cross toward the far post, only to have Hall knock it out. Then in the 89th minute, Hall made himself big and blocked Ned Grabavoy from an easy 1-v-1 goal.
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RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was also huge for the visitors down the stretch. He blocked Davis's PK attempt by guessing correctly and diving to his left. His one mistake proved to be costly, though. In the Dynamo's final push for the game winner, Corey Ashe sent a cross into the box toward Mac Kandji. Rimando misjudged the angle and knocked Kandji down, earning the Dynamo a second penalty kick chance.
This time, Colin Clark stepped up to the penalty spot and drilled his shot straight down the middle. "Brad let me take it and I'm not going to turn that chance down," Clark said. "I just put it in the back of the net."
With the win, the Dynamo moved to third place in the Eastern Conference, passing the Chicago Fire. Their next match is on the road against the East-leading Sporting Kansas City on Friday, September 14.