HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo’s path to securing a big win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday night was anything but easy.
Houston took a two-goal lead into halftime after controlling possession and enjoying the better chances, but the advantage seemed to motivate Portland after the break. John Spencer’s crew came out with fire and passion and made their intentions clear early: They were going to pressure the Dynamo.
“In the first half, our shape was good and the passing was good,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “When you possess the ball, it makes it easy on yourself. In the second half, we were a little careless with the ball at times, and it gave them some possession, so we started chasing the game.”
Following Jack Jewsbury's 56th-minute goal, Houston found themselves working hard to keep possession while trying to earn a second win in their last three home games. Despite Portland threatening down the stretch, the Dynamo were able to kill the game off with solid defense.
“We got off to a good start, but that first 60 [minutes] took a lot out of us,” forward Brian Ching said. “This is the way we should’ve been playing all year, especially at home, but we can’t pat ourselves on the back just yet — but we did jump up to third place in the east.”
Ching notched the goal that proved to be the game-winner, but he later lamented his missed chance to ice the game.
With Houston up 2-0 and hunting for a third, Geoff Cameron served up a chance for Ching — who was free in front of goal — to put the game away. However, Ching couldn't put a strong shot on goal and Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins was seemingly able to pin the ball on the goal line, though there was some debate about whether the ball did in fact cross the line.
“I fault myself for not putting the game away in the first half,” Ching said. “If I score that third one, it’s not that close in the end. I thought it was over the line. I thought I saw some green in between the ball and the line, but there’s no way the refs could’ve seen that.”
Costly's first start
Fresh off a standout performance with the Honduran national team midweek, forward Carlo Costly got a start in his home debut, going 57 minutes in Sunday’s match. The Honduran was not able to impact the score line but did impress with his ability to hold the ball and combine with his teammates while fighting off fatigue.
“He made an impact in this game and worked hard,” Ching said. “He’s a little tired with the travel and big games he’s had, but we look forward to getting some good games from him.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.