HOUSTON - A week after showing MLS they can score in bunches, the Houston Dynamo reminded that they are still a blue collar group first and foremost.
With just a one-goal lead to play with thanks to another strike from Will Bruin, the Dynamo’s ability to close out a game was put to the test for the first time in 2014 against a Montreal Impact team intent on pushing the pressure. Houston’s defense held up with a team effort to clinch the Dynamo's second shutout in as many games in a 1-0 win and add more confidence to their stockpile.
“It’s important to close a game out,” said Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall after the match. “1-0 wins are special because there’s never a time you can let off anything. To kind of pass that test early in the season I think is going to help with momentum, help with confidence and help all over. Winning is a habit, and we’re creating good habits right now.”
Montreal pushed the pace against the Dynamo and tried to catch them both with the counter early and by holding the ball late. Led by Andrew Wenger, who was a good defensive play away from scoring on three separate occasions, the Impact kept the Dynamo on the back foot for long stretches.
“I think they’re a little better than New England,” said left back Corey Ashe. “They were good at finding the holes, finding the pockets and breaking us down from there. It’s something we need to evaluate.”
Couple Montreal’s fervor with a Dynamo attack that was not clicking as well as it was a week ago, and Houston was shown a stiff challenge in Week 2.
“You obviously want to go out and entertain and play some great stuff every week, but you know that’s not going to be the case,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We still created some good chances. … At times maybe the movement off the ball wasn’t as sharp as it was last week, but we still created enough chances to get a goal or possibly more tonight.”
In place of that free-flowing attack was a cohesive effort on the defensive side. Houston shifted as a team, and several times players covered long patches of grass to kill Montreal attacks.
If that was not enough, Kofi Sarkodie continued his goal-saving antics, clearing a ball off the goal line to support Hall, who had four saves on the night. The team effort to keep a feisty Impact off the board was enough to make Bruin’s 40th-minute goal stand up.
“Last week we won 4-0, scored some great goals and had a great game,” said Dynamo captain Brad Davis. “This week we turn around and have to grind one out. It’s a testament to the team knowing we can play pretty and knowing we can get results.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.