Definitely one of the most pathetic performances for Houston ever. They started off with a terrible mistake in the 7th minute that lead to a one on one with the goalie that Elias Montes finished for Isidro Metapan’s first goal in the competition. Then a minute later Anel Canales was sprung with another one on one with the goalie that was finished easily.
Houston in general were sloppy throughout but their first real attempt at possession ended up in a goal in the 28th minute when Brian Ching set up Geoff Cameron who scored. Houston seemed to gain a little control but got a fluke goal in the 45th minute where Tally Hall lobbed the ball into the box and Brian Ching jumped up and the goalie also jumped towards Ching but not towards the ball and the ball just bounced into the net.
Houston pressed in the second half and really should have scored but the new goalkeeper Misael Alfaro made some great saves that kept them tied. Then off of a deflected free kick from David Umana beat Tally Hall. Houston pressed and created chances but could not get the goal and were also lucky not to go down 4-2 except a great save by Hall. The loss means Houston is out of the CONCACAF Champions League and based on this performance, they do not deserve to be in it. The referee was pretty terrible (a couple obvious handballs that were not called and 3 minutes of extra time in the second half was ridiculous as there should have easily been 4 if not 5 minutes), but really cannot be blamed for the result. Here are some of my observations.
- No more Dominic Oduro, please. There is sadly a reason why he could not break into the lineup of the New York Red Bulls. He has killer speed but he simply does not score. He is not that great of a passer. He missed a sitter in the first half when it was 2-1. He could not even put it on goal. He later did get a volley that forced a save. Compare that to Abe Thompson who in 15 minutes was as effective as Oduro was in 90. He set up Holden who set up Ching with a chance that should have been finished. Thompson also does not finish that well but he does add more to the team than Oduro by creating chances. Oduro could still work as a late sub and use his speed to harass defenders but is poor when he starts.
- Blending reserves with the first team and a new formation was a disaster waiting to happen. Not sure what Dominic Kinnear was thinking. He blended in some reserves with John Michael Hayden and Eric Ustruck and then changed the formation to 3-5-2 which altered the positions of Geoff Cameron, Wade Barrett, and Brad Davis. The result was a terrible. Every player seemed unsure of their role and very uncomfortable. At times Wade Barrett was the only player on the left side of the field and would push up almost as a third forward leaving a huge gap on the left. Only when Barrett began to tuck back and they somewhat reverted to a 4-4-2 (they never did as no left midfielder ever appeared) did they look any more cohesive.
- Ching does not help his World Cup case with this performance. Much like Dominic Oduro, Ching was guilty of some poor finishes. He had one in the 86th minute which he pushed just wide which a national team striker must finish. Those misses will not help his chances. His holdup play was fine and defensive work was very good but when they needed a goal he could not get it done. He did have a good header that was saved earlier but comparing to Conor Casey, this was a poor showing.
- Eric Ustruck looked a solid player. One of the few bright spots was Eric Ustruck who did well on the right wing. He seemed to even partner well with Craig Waibel and most of the attacks in the second half were directed down his side. He showed good dribbling and strong defense. I think he probably will be a right back in the future as I see Danny Cruz as the future right midfielder for Houston but I think he could play there effectively.