Lost opportunity: Poor field conditions tarnish Houston-Portland first leg

The Houston Dynamo earned its fourth straight shutout, but it couldn't score, putting itself in a difficult situation for its second leg of the Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday at Portland.

1. Video Review denies Dynamo penalty kick.

The Dynamo appeared to have a chance to go ahead in the 31st minute when Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala brought down Houston forward Alberth Elis. Referee Robert Sibiga signaled for a penalty kick but called it off after Video Review.

Replays showed it was a close call -- the 6-foot-2 Mabiala got the ball but also nicked the Dynamo's Honduran speedster. It was the first use of Video Review in the 2017 MLS playoffs. It had been introduced in the league in August.

2. Choppy field creates problems for both teams.

Neither team could a sustained attack on the choppy BBVA Compass Stadium field. The condition of the field has been a problem, and it has been made worse as Southern University, which shares the stadium with the Dynamo, plays college football in the fall.

"I’m not here to jam Houston and their field," Portland coach Caleb Porter. "I know they have challenges with regards to football playing on it, but it’s not great in a showcase game like this with two attacking teams to have to play on. It’s just really difficult and unfortunate, but it is what it is."

3. Chara out with fracture of the fifth metatarsal.

The Timbers went into the game without two of their key midfielders, Argentine Sebastian Blanco (a late scratch after suffering second-degree burns on top of right foot from boiling water) and Costa Rican David Guzman (knee sprain).

By the start of the second half, they had lost Mabiala and Diego Chara with injuries. Darlington Nagbe then went off in the 60th minute. The most serious injury was Chara's fracture of the fifth metatarsal.

"We’re where we’re at in the playoffs," said Porter, "because of our depth dealing with a crazy amount of injuries. We’ve got guys like Roy Miller coming in to the game and Lawrence Olum and Amobi Okugo coming into the game and Dairon Asprilla and Jeremy Ebobisse. So that’s what this team is about. This team is not about 11 players. It’s about 20 guys that want to win and want to do something special.”

Oct. 30 in Houston
Houston 0 Portland 0.
Houston -- Deric; Anibaba, Machado, Senderos, Beasley; Cabezas, Alexander, Martinez (Sanchez 60); Elis, Manotas (Torres 76), Quioto (Alex 70).
Portland -- Attinella; Powell, Mabiala (Miller 45+1), Ridgewell, Vytas Andriuskevicius; Olum, Chara (Okugo 46); Asprilla, Valeri, Nagbe (Ebobisse 60); Mattocks.
Att.: 15,169.
3 comments about "Lost opportunity: Poor field conditions tarnish Houston-Portland first leg".
  1. Kent James, October 31, 2017 at 10:53 a.m.

    The field was awful.  Hard to play a game of skill on an uneven surface.  The video review did help the ref rescind an inappropriate penalty call.  Unfortunately, the Houston GK took down a Portland forward (who had just touched the ball away from him), and the referee did not make the call.  No doubt, he was feeling pressure after taking away the PK from Houston, not to punish them by calling a PK against them so soon afterwards.  But it was a clear penalty.  If they used video review on that one (the announcers said they did, because the ref put his hand to his earpiece), it didn't work as it should.  I also did not care who won the game, so I have no bias in my assessment.  

  2. DonJuego Lee, October 31, 2017 at 1:42 p.m.

    That's a yellow card scissor tackle in midfield. Everyday. Everywhere.   

  3. Right Winger, October 31, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

    I am curious as to when skill, win or lose, was ever a measurable contributing factor to the outcome of an MLS game?

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