CARSON, Calif. – They waited till the death, but the Houston Dynamo finally snapped their opening-day hex, defeating Chivas USA 1-0 in front of 14,564 at the Home Depot Center. Andre Hainault scored two minutes into stoppage time, collecting a ricocheted ball in the box and slamming his shot past Chivas’s heroic goalkeeper, Dan Kennedy, who kept the Goats in the match all night. He finished with seven saves on the afternoon.
The victory snapped the Dynamo’s five-game winless streak on opening day, while Chivas’ own mark was extended to three matches.
The Dynamo were at full strength on the day, including midfielder Brad Davis, who was recovered from the right quadriceps strain that kept him out of the MLS Cup final last November. Brian Ching, subject of much off-season hoopla and a trade with the Montreal Impact, assumed his usual role up top for Houston.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
On the other side, injuries forced Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser to make several changes from the side that started throughout the preseason as Peter Vagenas and Rawshaun McKenzie got the call over Mike Lahoud (hamstring) and John Alexander Valencia (quadriceps).
In the 13th minute, Kennedy had his first important stop. A long ball from Geoff Cameron unleashed Ching behind the defense, but Kennedy smothered the ball before the former US international could get a shot off.
The Dynamo again came close in the 25th minute, when Bobby Boswell played a looping ball to an unmarked Will Bruin, who forced Kennedy to make a quick reaction leg save.
In the 38th minute, Chivas got into things. Laurent Courtois sent in a dangerous cross but midfielder Oswaldo Minda’s header went wide of the frame.
Just two minutes later, a Courtois corner kick fell to Juan Pablo Angel, whose shot struck the right post.
At the outset of the second half, the Dynamo asserted control of the match, and in the 54th minute midfielder Colin Clark fired a shot from close range that went just wide of Kennedy’s net.
The Rojiblancos sought to breathe life into an attack that appeared to be stagnating midway through the second half by inserting debutants Cesar Romero and Ryan Smith in the 58th and 65th minute respectively. Smith’s inclusion nearly bore fruit in the 70th minute when his cross from the left flank found Angel in the box. However, the Colombian forward headed his chance just over the bar.
But the Dynamo kept pressing. In the 74th minute, successive blasts from Adam Moffat and Bruin called on Kennedy to be at his best again. And when Kennedy couldn’t stop to a classy volley from Ching in the 79th minute, the post got the job done.
But it was all for naught in the end. Stranded by his pulling-up defense, Kennedy was helpless to stop Hainault dramatic winner.
Chivas USA next face Vancouver at home on Saturday, March 17. The Dynamo take on the San Jose Earthquakes on the same day at AT&T Park in San Francisco.