HOUSTON – One player has played 140 regular season games for the Houston Dynamo, another was making his debut. Both had key roles to play as the Dynamo quelled the Union’s mini-revival with a narrow 2-1 victory Saturday night.
In the end, Brian Ching’s 83rd-minute winner from the penalty spot gave Houston (6-5-5) an important three points while Philadelphia (3-9-2) were unable to follow up their 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City with another impressive result.
Houston plugged new signing Oscar Boniek Garcia straight into the starting lineup and the Honduran winger added zest to the Dynamo’s attacking play, especially in the first half. But while the Dynamo had the bulk of the possession and chances, they never looked assured at the back.
HIGHLIGHTS: HOU 2, PHI 1
Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear switched from 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation following the unexpected 4-2 defeat in Montreal a week earlier. Stoke City target Geoff Cameron moved up to the middle of the park, while Jermaine Taylor returned from injury and slotted in for Cameron at center back. Sheanon Williams returned to Philadelphia’s back four for coach John Hackworth.
The Dynamo’s new Designated Player was heavily involved as Houston grabbed the lead in the 20th minute. Garcia’s cross from the right found Macoumba Kandji on the edge of the box. The forward slid the ball into the path of the onrushing Brad Davis, who superbly sand-wedged the ball into the far corner for his fourth goal of the season.
It was reward for Houston’s control of the first half, though the visitors should have opened the scoring 10 minutes earlier. Making his first start for the Union, Jorge Perlaza was clean through but his low shot zipped wide of Tally Hall’s goal.
Anxious moments at the core of the Dynamo backline saw Hall called into emergency action on a couple of occasions, yet Kinnear’s side might have been two goals to the good at the break. Cameron eluded his marker on a 38th-minute Davis free kick, but sent his header over from six yards.
The home side was pegged back just 36 seconds into the second half. Brian Carroll found Keon Daniel at the top of the box, allowing the Philly midfielder to turn and lash a bouncing drive beyond Hall from 20 yards. The Dynamo goalkeeper seemed to be taken by surprise and barely moved.
Houston was rocked for the next few minutes before regaining composure. Still, the match appeared headed for a draw until Gabriel Farfan’s nudge on Brian Ching sent the Dynamo substitute tumbling to the turf. The referee, Fotis Bazakos, awarded a penalty, and the veteran star took the ensuing penalty kick himself to claim his second goal of the season and his first at BBVA Compass Stadium with just seven minutes remaining.
Houston host the Chicago Fire on July 3 in their next match, while Philadelphia are away to the LA Galaxy on Independence Day.
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Brad Davis||Opening goal set the tone, and he provided his usual service from the left flank.|
|2||Keon Daniel||The coaches keep telling him to shoot, and tonight made it clear why. Nearly gave Union a point.|
|3||Macoumba Kandji||A thorn in the Union's side all night, the lanky forward set up Davis for the opener.|