HOUSTON – In a rough-and-tumble affair that Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear aptly termed “a man’s game,” it was a stroke of fortune that gave the Houston Dynamo the full three points.
After 80 minutes of tough, physical play, D.C. United and the Dynamo looked destined for a scoreless deadlock.
Houston had tested D.C. goalkeeper BIll Hamid time and again on Saturday, only to be rebuffed at each turn. Turns out, it took one of D.C.’s own to turn the tide.
The unlucky culprit, United debutant James Riley, beat Ricardo Clark to the ball and headed home an own-goal game winner for the Dynamo and showed that good luck comes to those who are persistent.
“We could have had a few goals in the first half,” said Clark. “We kept pushing. We had strong performances from most guys. The soccer wasn’t the prettiest at times, but everyone kept pushing.”
Added defender Bobby Boswell, “Sometimes you need something like what happened to happen. Sometimes you can’t score on them but they can.”
The goal was especially cruel for D.C. as Hamid looked destined to rescue a point for his side. The big 'keeper made a number of dramatic saves, including a penalty-kick stop on Brad Davis and a point-blank reflex denial of Giles Barnes.
“That save on [Barnes] on the corner, that was probably the most impressive save I’ve ever seen on the field,” Boswell said of Hamid’s 44th-minute effort. “That was unbelievable. I was already celebrating that goal; I thought it was going in.”
Both sides came out with high intensity and it was not uncommon to find a player on the deck at any point. In the end, Riley's own goal was enough to cap a Dynamo effort that should build momentum as they prepare for a crucial CONCACAF Champions League clash with Santos Laguna on Tuesday (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer).
For Houston’s part, the game had stretches of play on both the good and bad side of the ledger, something the club can look to fix after a well-earned win.
“We had some good stretches there, but there were some stretches where we were chasing a little bit. I think we found our rhythm,” Boswell said. “I think they definitely had some of the play coming out. We figured it out and got it done and that’s all that matters.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.