Will Bruin and Calen Carr picked a great time to start to come together.
The Houston forward tandem terrorized the Chicago Fire backline on the way to helping the Dynamo to a 2-1 Knockout Round win on Wednesday. Bruin scored both of Houston's goals and Carr was dangerous providing service and finding space as the pair played well enough off each other to help send the Dynamo to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But all of this might come as a bit of a surprise. After all, Wednesday’s win was just the second time this season the pair had played together at the top of Houston's formation.
Expect Sunday’s semifinal opener against Sporting Kansas City (3:30 pm ET; NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) to be the third.
"We are starting to gel," Bruin told the media. "At training this week, we were clicking and starting to figure each other out. I think people could tell tonight we were playing off each other, we were talking, we were making runs and it worked out."
While the pair has limited experience as a tandem, they did lay the groundwork for a relationship this summer. Carr and Bruin worked well together as part of a three-man frontline during Houston's eight-game unbeaten run, and they often linked up to put pressure on opposing defenses, with Bruin playing more as a true creating center forward and Carr making darting runs off the wing.
Wednesday night, however, things were reversed. Carr made the runs and Bruin found the spaces to take his chances on goal.
"Their play together when they were combining was very good," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Calen's smart, makes good runs and Will can be that battering ram that creates space for others. It's nice to see them combine on that goal, and they could've combined on a few others."
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.