At this point in the season, the Houston Dynamo are accustomed to looking down the depth chart during big moments. Saturday was no different.
Missing starters Will Bruin (calf contusion) and Jermaine Taylor (personal business), Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear turned to his bench and tapped forward Brian Ching and defender Warren Creavalle to step in and the pair didn't miss a beat. Couple that with a late injury substitution of Kofi Sarkodie for Corey Ashe and the 2-0 road victory is evidence of just how deep the Dynamo are throughout their roster.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 0, HOU 2
Ching led the way for Houston’s reinforcements, providing his normal hold-up play and fitting seamlessly into the 4-3-3 system that lends itself to his skill set. The forward – who wore the captain’s armband in his first start since June 23 - punctuated his afternoon with an 86th-minute rocket of an insurance goal that capped a nice sequence between Brad Davis and Boniek García.
“I think Brian came on today and battled unbelievably hard, did a great job and got himself a goal,” Davis said. “We have the franchise-leading goalscorer coming off the bench for us in Brian Ching so, to be totally honest, we’d love to have Will on the field but as we always say we’ve got plenty of guys that can step up and do the job.”
Set piece success
One aspect of their attacking repertoire that the Dynamo felt was missing earlier in the season was their success on set pieces, but it is fair to say that is no longer the case. Calen Carr capped a beautiful set-piece sequence in the 45th minute after Davis and Bobby Boswell set him up, giving Houston a 1-0 halftime lead. The game-winning tally was the club’s ninth set-piece goal of the season, one behind the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes.
“We’re starting to get confidence, and I think timing’s been a huge thing,” Davis said. “Earlier in the year, we were just missing and not getting clear-cut opportunities and now our timing’s been much better and today we were able to score on one.”
Davis continues hot streak
Earlier this week Davis told MLSsoccer.com that he felt he was hitting his stride, and Saturday he backed that up. The left-footed maestro led the way for a Houston midfield that controlled the game, adding two assists to push his season total to 10, which is tied for the league lead with D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario.
“Brad’s been Brad lately,” Ching said of his long-time teammate. “He’s been one of the top players in this league for the last six or seven years and you saw that tonight. It’s a matter of him staying healthy and fit and it’s no surprise to any one of us that he has so many assists.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.