SAN FRANCISCO — Last season, it took the Houston Dynamo 16 games to record their first road victory.
Thanks to Brian Ching, Brad Davis and a stout defense, the 2012 Dynamo have matched that win total in the space of just two weeks.
Ching drew a first-half penalty kick that Davis converted for the only goal in Houston’s 1-0 decision against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at AT&T Park. It was a second consecutive 1-0 road victory for the Dynamo, who made last year’s MLS Cup final despite going 2-6-9 away from home. And that bodes well for Houston (2-0-0), who still have five more road games to get through before the debut of BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12.
The result ruined the Quakes’ trip north from their San Jose home, dropping them to 1-1-0 on the year.
Houston’s scoring sequence began in the 13th minute, when Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat chipped a ball into the penalty area for Ching to run onto. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch came off his line to play the ball at the edge of the six-yard box, but whiffed and suffered an awkward full-body collision with Ching, who had beaten Earthquakes center back Víctor Bernárdez on the play.
Davis pulled the 14th-minute penalty to his right, placing it in the side netting past Busch, who guessed correctly but still couldn’t deflect the shot.
San Jose put only one shot on goal — a speculative effort from deep on the left wing by Ramiro Corrales, which was knocked over the crossbar by scrambling Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall — during the first half. The Quakes pushed forward after intermission, spurred on by substitutes Marvin Chávez and Tressor Moreno, who made his MLS debut.
In the 61st minute, Hall came up with a one-on-one stop against Chris Wondolowski, who has a league-high 35 goals since 2010. Khari Stephenson collected the rebound, but his shot was blocked by Houston defender Jermaine Taylor.
Moreno set free Shea Salinas in the 81st minute, but he found side netting with his shot, even as Wondolowski lurked free at the back post.
Salinas drew a free kick on the edge of the box in the 83rd, but Chávez pushed the attempt high over the crossbar. Steven Lenhart pulled a shot wide in the 86th. And Wondolowski’s free kick from 20 yards in injury time deflected off the wall, with the Quakes’ calls for a hand ball infraction going unanswered.
Houston made only one change to last week’s winning side, bringing in Jermaine Taylor along the backline to replace Corey Ashe. San Jose also swapped out one player, inserting 6-foot-1 Stephenson into the midfield in place of 5-foot-5 Chávez in an attempt to deal with Houston’s size on set pieces.
The 2-0-0 Dynamo next travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders on March 23. The 1-1-0 Quakes, meanwhile, hit the road to face Toronto a day later.