HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo are veterans of the CONCACAF Champions League, so they saw it coming.
Now in their third go-around in the CCL, the Dynamo were able to shrug off the simulation, the physical play and some controversial referee decisions when things generally got out of hand during Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against Honduran side Olimpia that booked Houston's ticket to the quarterfinals next spring.
“Every game’s like that – we knew it was going to be like that, so you just laugh it off,” forward Cam Weaver said. “It’s comical really. You’ve just got to push through and we did. It wasn’t our best performance, but we did what we have to do to get to the next round, so we’re happy.”
Tuesday night's proceedings have become all too familiar in the tournament. Referee Juan Carlos Guerra struggled to maintain control of the match and Olimpia employed stall tactics that would have unravelled other teams less familiar with the tournament.
“It’s frustrating because the guys are rolling around acting,” said striker Brian Ching, who’s competed in all three of Houston’s CCL bids. “You see it with the goalie when he pushes me and then falls down, it’s a joke. I think you’d like to see things cracked down on, but that’s not going to happen. You’re gonna see things like that happen all the time, which is again, a joke.”
Sturgis provides a technical touch
If you want to know about Nathan Sturgis’ technical ability, just ask Olimpia. For the second time in the tournament the Dynamo center back served up the winning corner kick goal to pull Houston even late.
After setting Adam Moffat up for a second-half equalizer in Honduras on Aug. 30, the center back hooked up with Andre Hainault in the 65th minute on Tuesday night, and this time it sunk the visitors.
“Nat has some of the best feet,” Ching said of Sturgis' skills. “Great possession player and he’s a huge addition to our team. He’s a good professional in the fact that he makes the most of the opportunities he does get.”
Post keeps Weaver off scoresheet
Weaver has become an effective late game option in MLS play and a tournament regular over the last month, but in the last three weeks he has created an unwelcome relationship with the left post of the south goal at BBVA Compass Stadium.
In fact, he’s hit it three times. In three weeks.
“They were joking in the locker room about doing some voodoo or something in my locker before next game. That or move the goal post over six inches,” Weaver said. “I think you saw it on my face. I was just laughing. I couldn’t believe that I’d hit the same post three times. But that’s soccer, I guess.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.