Smiley N. Pool, AP
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando makes a save on a penalty kick by Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis during an MLS soccer match, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Houston. Houston won 1-0.
HOUSTON — Real Salt Lake's Texas hex is well documented, and the disappointing results are married to just about every story about RSL and their games against Houston and FC Dallas.
Real Salt Lake has never won in Texas; they are 0-7-1 against Houston and are a combined 0-17-3 in the land known as the Lone Star State.
So with a chance to end 11 years of futility and deny Houston's bid to extend its home unbeaten streak to 22 games, RSL thought it caught a break against a Dynamo team missing nearly half of its starting lineup team due to various reasons.
The result, however, was the same. Houston forward Colin Clark converted a penalty kick in the 94th minute to give the Dynamo a 1-0 win in front of 18,452 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Real Salt Lake goalie Nick Rimando (three saves) was just short of brilliant for 93 minutes. He made two point-blank saves and even stopped a penalty kick by Houston midfielder Brad Davis in the 76th minute that, against most teams, would have been good enough to earn a draw.
That was not the case in the Bayou City, where the temperature at game time was still in the mid 90s. Rimando made a poor decision in the closing minutes, choosing to play a shot by Luiz Camargo. The RSL 'keeper, who owns an all-time 29.8 saves percentage on penalty kicks, collided with Macoumba Kandji. That set up a penalty kick that Clark ripped right down the middle.
"It's one of those games where you just do what you think is right," said Rimando. "I don't know that I'd call it a mistake, but it was a misplay, yeah. The ball is coming, it's in the air, and I am not intending to hit Kandji.
"But it happens; he made a great run. We didn't have any coverage on the ball, but I didn't want to be stuck out in no man's land.
"At the end of the day, it's a play that I want to take back and give these guys — that worked so hard — a point back."
Both teams were missing players due to international call-ups, but the Dynamo (12-7-9) played without Brian Ching, Brian Ownby, Nathan Sturgis due to illness.
In addition to Ching and Sturgis, Houston played without Andre Hainault (Canada) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), and midfielders Boniek Garcia (Honduras) and Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica), who were all away with their respective national teams for World Cup qualifiers.
RSL (14-11-4) was shorthanded, too.
Captain Kyle Beckerman (United States), leading scorer Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) and midfielder Will Johnson (Canada) missed Thursday's match while with their national teams, and usual left back Chris Wingert was out due to a yellow card accumulation suspension.
Even with the short benches, the game was surprisingly upbeat and competitive.
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RSL had a great chance in the 11th minute when Fabian Espindola worked around the Houston defense and stayed onside after settling a pass from Paulo Junior. Espindola flicked a shot toward the right post, but Houston 'keeper Tally Hall (three saves) reacted just in time and made the first save of the match.
Hall also denied a Nat Borchers header in the 76th minute.
"The game livened up in the second half, and I thought it was an exciting game," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis, who stayed on the pitch for more than 10 minutes after the final whistle. "That save he made on Borchers to pull that ball out of the top corner was unbelievable.
"Clearly Tally Hall was the man of the match tonight."