By DAN KARELL
In a match marked by physical play all night long, it shouldn’t be a surprise that arguably the league’s most physical defender scored the game-winning goal.
Aurelien Collin overcame an early yellow card to play the entire match and score the game winner in the second half, as Sporting Kansas City downed the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, on Sunday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. The loss for the Dynamo ended their 36 match unbeaten run at home in all competitions.
Both clubs realized early on that the short-passing game wasn’t on the cards, so they turned to a very direct style, which saw numerous physical battles in the middle of the field as well as in the final thirds, two teams fighting each other for every floated cross. The teams each had only 63 percent accuracy in the first half, and the number only decreased for SKC in the second, as they finished at just 59 percent.
The chippy atmosphere in the match extended all the way from the beginning to the end. Collin was awarded his yellow card for a slide tackle on Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark in the 24th minute, though it seemed like Clark sold the foul a bit. Dynamo forward Andrew Driver was awarded a yellow card just five minutes later for a late challenge, and SKC midfielder Oriol Rosell got his own card for persistent fouling four minutes from halftime.
Though he scored two and assisted on another two on Wednesday, Dynamo forward Will Bruin struggled to find his feet during the match, his best opportunity coming in the 13th minute on a shot that went high over the match. Dynamo captain Brad Davis couldn’t convert numerous free kick opportunities in the first and second halves into chances for his teammates or goals for himself.
In the 73rd minute, Collin ended up in the right place in the box off a long throw-in from teammate Seth Sinovic. The French defender flicked the header past Hall and across the goal line, potentially making amends for his error on Wednesday night against the Seattle Sounders and giving his side a lead.
35 fouls and four yellow cards were shown during the match, a majority towards the visitors and the game reduced to a scrum at the end. Dynamo substitute Brian Ching came on in an effort to redirect any number of Davis’ crosses but the two could not find a connection together as Ike Opara and Collin stood tall and strong in the heart of the SKC defense.
SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen also earned his seventh clean sheet of the season, making three saves on the night for Peter Vermes side who won their sixth match of the season and move to second place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Dynamo on 20 points.
Here are the match highlights: