VANCOUVER, B.C. — Shea Salinas played hero on Saturday night, scoring an 86th-minute winner as the Vancouver Whitecaps ended the Houston Dynamo’s five-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory at Empire Field.
The first half was one defined by missed opportunities, as the teams came agonizingly close, but failed to get the ball across the line time after time.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall nearly gifted the ‘Caps the lead in the ninth minute, as he misplayed a save off a Davide Chiumiento free kick. The Washington State-born ‘keeper looked as if he was going to catch the ball, but mishandled to push it against the post and cause a mad scramble in front of his net. Hall recovered to regather the ball.
Just one minute later, however, the Dynamo nearly hurt themselves again as Bobby Boswell passed an awkward bouncing ball back to his ‘keeper. Hall panicked with his clearance, blasting the ball against Gershon Koffie’s head from close range, and was fortunate to see the ball bounce to safety.
After surviving those early scares, Houston regrouped and nearly took the lead in the 12th minute, as midfielder Adam Moffat unloaded a rocket of a shot from about 20 yards out. His long-range effort beat Joe Cannon comfortably, but, to the relief of the 20,226 fans at Empire Field, ricocheted off the crossbar.
Cannon may have been fortunate on that instance, but recovered well to stop a deflected Brad Davis shot from outside in the 23rd minute.
The first half came to a fitting end in the third minute of stoppage time, as Mustapha Jarju cut back a pass expertly to Salinas, only for the Texan to fire over the net from a wonderful position to end the half 0-0.
The second half began in controversial fashion, as referee Niko Bratsis pointed to the spot after Cannon appeared to foul Houston striker Carlo Costly in the 48th minute. However, Bratsis reversed his decision after consulting with the assistant referee, awarding a free kick to the Whitecaps.
Then, five minutes later, Eric Hassli forced Hall into a great save, after Koffie played the big striker into a good position with a nice through ball. The Frenchman expertly pulled the ball back to himself before powering a shot which Hall managed to knock clear for a corner.
The Dynamo began to pick up steam as the game progressed, but several chances by Brian Ching went wanting as the 'Caps survived the onslaught. Their wastefulness was punished in the 86th minute as substitute Long Tan turned his marker expertly outside the box before putting Salinas through. The winger finished the play with a well-placed low ball into the bottom right corner to give his team the 1-0 victory.
The Whitecaps now move on to play the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 10, while the Dynamo host defending CONCACAF champions Monterrey for a Sept. 4 friendly at Robertson Stadium.
VAN -- Shea Salinas 1 (Long Tan 2) 86
VAN -- Davide Chiumiento (caution; Tactical Foul) 57
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Reckless Tackle) 89
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Je-Vaughn Watson 67), Adam Moffat, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 85), Carlo Costly (Calen Carr 67).
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Dixon, Eddie Robinson, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Joe Cannon, Jonathan Leathers, Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat, Jordan Harvey, John Thorrington (Shea Salinas 33), Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas, Davide Chiumiento (Long Tan 75), Eric Hassli, Mustapha Jarju (Jeb Brovsky 85).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Boxall, Philippe Davies, Omar Salgado, Jay Nolly.
Referee: Niko Bratsis
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Claudio Badea
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Sunny and 79 degrees