Earthquakes blanked by Houston Dynamo



HOUSTON —  For the second time in a week, Andrew Tarbell saved a penalty kick. And just like the previous time, his heroics could not prevent the Earthquakes from sliding to defeat.

Tarbell made some big stops on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium, just as he did on Wednesday when the Earthquakes fell to Sporting Kansas City after a penalty shootout in their U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

The 23-year-old’s teammates again could not deliver a result to reward his performance, but his head coach offered praise.

“I thought Andrew did well. It’s never easy coming in as a goalie — and taking your opportunity as an MLS goalie away under tough conditions, as it is in Houston,” Chris Leitch said. “He made a hell of a PK save.”

Still, the outcome left Tarbell feeling unsatisfied after his first MLS start.

“We lost and we didn’t play at the best of our ability,” said Tarbell, a Louisiana native and 2016 first-round draft pick.

Tarbell dived to his right to deny Benny Feilhaber in the Open Cup. Here he surged low to his left to repel Erick Torres’ 49th-minute effort after an odd sequence that saw referee Ricardo Salazar dismiss Andrés Imperiale for the foul that conceded the penalty, then downgrade the red card to a yellow after consulting an assistant. The defender had started a disconsolate trudge to the locker room.

The Earthquakes lost 2-0 in Houston in April with former coach Dominic Kinnear running the show. This time they fell behind after 21 minutes when Alberth Elis scored on a header from a corner.
The penalty save and red-card reprieve felt like a turning point, but the pattern of play did not change course.

“I thought it did give us a little bit of life, but you’d like to see a little bit more life maybe after such a pivotal moment in the game. Fell a little bit short today,” Leitch said.

The Dynamo continued to press, their quick wingers tormenting the Quakes back line. But a combination of poor finishing and Tarbell’s saves kept hope alive for the Quakes. The goalkeeper even got away with an eccentric dash far outside his box to boot the ball away from the onrushing Torres 10 minutes into the second half.

After such resistance the stage seemed set for an unlikely equalizer — and it almost happened when substitute Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili danced into the Dynamo box in the 83rd minute, but he put his shot wide. Two Dynamo substitutes, Vicente Sanchez and Mauro Manotas, then scored from close range on the break to ensure another heavy road loss.

The Earthquakes have conceded at least three goals in each of their past four MLS road games, but they remain in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

If this was another shaky display, at least there were mitigating circumstances: 120-minutes plus in Kansas City, along with the Dynamo’s prolific scoring and unbeaten home league record. And a game-time temperature of 95 degrees, feeling like 105.

“I think fatigue’s always a factor, especially if you have a midweek game, especially in the heat, with the travel,” Leitch said.

The Earthquakes next host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.



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