[SUPERLIGA] Nearly lost in a flurry of red and yellow cards Wednesday night at Robertson Stadium was a 1-0 Houston defeat of Puebla that clinched both teams a spot in the SuperLiga semifinals.
Dominic Oduro scored the only goal after coming on as a substitute. He also got sent off, one of four players so disciplined in a match of 12 cards, 35 fouls, and several skirmishes. Both teams will be shorthanded for the semifinals, to be played the first week of August with Houston as Group A winner and Puebla in second place.
In the semis Houston hosts Group B runner-up Morelia and New England is paired with Puebla. The dates and times for those games will be announced this week. The SuperLiga group finale between Chivas USA and Pachuca on Wednesday did not affect the semifinal situation.
Oduro scored in the 64th minute shortly after replacing Lovel Palmer. Cam Weaver headed a Corey Ashe free kick from the left wing to Oduro’s feet at the edge of the goal area. Oduro, perhaps surprised, still got his foot at the proper angle to re-direct the ball into the net to score his fourth goal of the season in all competitions.
Juan Carlos Garcia nearly gave Puebla the lead in the opening minutes but he bounced his point-blank header over the crossbar. Brian Ching, who replaced Weaver in the 69th minute, could have doubled Houston’s lead if his header hadn’t come back off the crossbar. Dynamo keeper Tally Hall kept Puebla off the board by sharp reactions to crosses and through balls; his only official save came in stoppage time when he thwarted Edgar Lugo.
By then, both teams were down to nine men. Oduro and Danny Cruz were sent off, as were Puebla’s Melvin Brown and Alvaro Gonzalez. Also suspended for the first semifinal will be Joseph Ngwenya of Houston and Yasser Corona of Puebla for accumulated cautions.
Three minutes after being cautioned, Cruz chopped down Gabriel Pereyra and referee Oscar Reyna dismissed him in the 77th minute. Scuffles and melees broke out several times in the final minutes as fierce tackles prompted shoving matches.
Recently signed midfielder Anthony Obodai went the full 90 minutes in his first appearance for the Dynamo. He took a savage kick from Alvaro Gonzalez that prompted a caution, and when Gonzalez pushed Dynamo teammates rushing to Obodai’s aid, Reyna flashed the red card at Gonzalez.
It was a rough introduction for Obodai to the SuperLiga, which in its fourth season hasn’t eradicated the ugly scenes that occasionally mar an otherwise entertaining competition.
Oduro received a caution for diving when knocked off the ball inside the penalty area, and when his incredulity over the call boiled over into abuse aimed at the officials, Reyna tacked on a second yellow.
July 21 in Houston
Houston 1, Puebla 0. Goal: Oduro 64.
Houston – Hall; Hainault, Serioux, Cochrane, Chabala, Cruz, Obadai, Palmer (Oduro, 62), Davis (Ashe, 56), Ngwenya (Boswell, 79), Weaver (Ching, 69).
Puebla – Hernandez (Alvarez, 67); Rincon, Garcia (M. Ortiz, 60), Brown, A. Ortiz, J. Gonzalez (F. Gonzalez, 66), Rivera (Pereyra, 69), Corona, Lugo, Sanchez (A. Gonzalez, 76), Ayala.
Red cards: Cruz 77, Oduro 87; Brown 83, A. Gonzalez 85.
Referee: Oscar Reyna.