The Houston Dynamo FC and Los Angeles FC draw on May 1 had momentum set in the nets. It’s MLS, and in this match, the keepers made all the difference.
Houston Dynamo FC goalkeeper Marko Maric recorded his best MLS game yet. Unfortunately for the home team, Los Angeles FC keeper Pablo Sisniega played as sharply as he could also.
The visitors started with full trust in Sisniega in the goal. They opposed Houston’s favored 4-3-3 with the same look from their side. But they got a surprise.
LAFC got off the very first shots, and they were all blocked. By the 10th minute, the team shifted to a 4-4-2 and kept that scheme for the rest of the match. It meant to exploit the visitors’ starting talent and gum up Houston’s works.
And after only another two minutes, it looked like that strategy would work. LA midfielder Eduard Atuesta fired in a through ball that forward Diego Rossi easily snagged.
Rossi knew that Houston keeper Maric instinctively plays aggressively, a bit out of position. The LAFC striker took his right-footed shot from the center of the box. But sensing the attempt to change momentum, Maric had instead stayed closer to home.
He ignored Rossi sliding toward him and sprawled out, grabbing and smothering the ball. He got up easily, not a bit winded.
The Dynamo would have tested Sisniega in the first half, had they prepared better to use their opportunities. One corner after another, one set piece after another, they sent balls well over teammates’ heads like they were Major League Baseball home runs.
So all first-half Dynamo shots missed, except for one 42nd minute attempt by midfielder Joe Corona.
But with Maric’s work throughout the game, aided by Houston’s disruptive midfield, LA didn’t fare any better.
Then it looked like Houston’s dam had broken in the 55th minute. Forward Corey Baird scored on a left-footed shot, assisted with passes traded between midfielders Latif Blessing and Mark-Anthony Kaye.
Instead of proving that Houston was solved and finished off, the Dynamo answered just two minutes later. That’s because striker Tyler Pasher continued earning the raise he got coming over this season from USL.
Yet the two keepers continued to rule this match. Seventeen total shots in this match never truly broke them.
Sisniega and Maric saw equal save opportunities. Both demonstrated excellent athleticism in defending their goals.
Maric progressed much further in growth during this match. He’s establishing himself not a moment too soon as Houston Dynamo works toward returning to post-season competition.
These teams should never find themselves out of a game with these two keepers.