Facing their third game in seven games and their second game in 72 hours in Texas during an extreme weather week, the Union literally and figuratively melted. A second half goal from Will Bruin was the death knell for the Union as they lost 2-0 on the road Friday night.
An effect of going hard after the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday was using a heavy dose of line-up rotation at Houston. Andre Blake started in goal over Zac MacMath, Fabinho replaced Ray Gaddis at left back and Gaddis replaced Sheanon Williams at right back. Maurice Edu started next to Carlos Valdes in central defense. Amobi Okugo saw the pitch after being benched on
Tuesday Saturday, and Pedro Ribeiro made his first MLS start of the season at striker.
The Dynamo were content to control play in the early going and as has been their pattern in recent weeks under Jim Curtin, the Union were happy to sit back and hit on the counter-attack. This worked throughout the first half. Despite the Dynamo controlling possession, they were unable to register more chances on goal than their Mid-Atlantic counterparts.
Andre Blake played well throughout the majority of the match. He was aggressive yet intelligent, and for the most part he appeared just as capable if not more so than Zac MacMath. However, Blake did make one mistake and unfortunately for the Union that mistake cost them a goal. In the second half, Brad Davis fed a ball along the wing to an open Giles Barnes and Barnes crossed the ball in the center of the box to Will Bruin. Having beat the defense, Bruin slid the ball past Blake to put the Union up 1-0. Despite the overall solid game played, Bruin will be regretting not chasing after the initial ball to Barnes more.
The Union were fairly solid in the first half, but come the second half the Union began to melt down. Fatigue from playing three games in seven days and two games in 72 hours in uncomfortably hot and humid Texas weather took their toll and it showed in the performance. The Union appeared absolutely gassed, especially Ray Gaddis who played every minute in all three games. Said fatigue ultimately led to an own goal.
Omar Cummings decided to attempt a cross to the other side of the box. However before the ball could get there, it took a deflection off Ray Gaddis and into the net with Blake never standing a chance at stopping the unexpected deflection. It was a truly unfortunate error for one of the Union's most steady defenders this season. At the end of the day, though, despite some attempts at goal in the second half, the Union never forced Tally Hall into the remarkable. The combination of all factors ultimately led to the Union losing 2-0 and being shut out on the road.
Though the result is disappointing, given the circumstances it can hardly be surprising or unexpected. Despite the fact the Union were surging up in the standings and facing a lesser team, the circumstances were all against the Union tonight and the unfortunate reality of the situation put itself on display in the second half.
Following three matches in seven days, the Union will now have an eight day break. MLS scheduling, everyone! And the Union now have no choice but to take advantage of this next Sunday when they host the San Jose Earthquakes at PPL Park.