Both DC United and the Houston Dynamo had their chances on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium; however, Dominic Kinnear's side were able to capitalize on their chances off an own goal from substitute James Riley and and a late tally from Ricardo Clark. Despite plenty of stretches of excellent chances for Ben Olsen's side from Nick DeLeon, Brandon McDonald and Chris Pontius the Black and Reds were unable to get onto the scoreboard.
Houston started the match exceptionally well in front of their home crowd forcing plenty of hard tackles from defenders Woolard and McDonald. Although quite successful on the defensive end of matters, McDonald was also quite a threat in the Dynamo's box from set-pieces yet was unable to convert. Woolard's return to regular action was also a good sign for the season as his physical play against Boniek Garcia was quite admirable. Brad Davis was once again instrumental for the Dynamo pressuring the established United back-line from the get-go. Certainly, the Dynamo won the battle of the midfield which was crucial in Houston compiling the three points to start off their season on a positive note.
The back and forth nature of the game at BBVA definitely benefited the Dynamo as they looked a more fit and cohesive unit down the stretch. Despite the high pressure from striker Lionard Pajoy, defenders as Bobby Boswell and Jermaine Taylor remained constant solidarity in front of Tally Hall who recorded what looks like his first shutout of many this 2013 MLS season.
For DC United, Dwayne De Rosario's presence was sorely missed. DC lacked leadership and cohesion going forward, and despite Chris Pontius' attacking efforts inside the box and his freekick off the crossbar, the potent attack was unable to get onto the scoresheet. Between Pajoy's pressure on Boswell and Nick DeLeon's pace alongside the flanks, United did have their chances to take it to the Dynamo.
Although Kinnear's starting XI were able to find gaps in behind DC United's defense, Bill Hamid was equal to almost every task. Hamid made spectacular saves on Giles Barnes and Brad Davis to keep the match level. However, in the 39th minute Houston was awarded a PK from a hard tackle by Chris Korb on Ricardo Clark which was subsequently taken by Davis. The 22-year-old American goalkeeper made the penalty save and continues to impress and should make an appeal to join the US Mens National Team as a secondary keeper as Tim Howard does not seem to be leaving his post anytime soon. Hamid's heroics early on in the match displayed his heightened command within his own penalty area.
Ben Olsen's squad need to tighten up on defense if they are to challenge for the Eastern Conference title and for MLS Cup. Not only do the defense need to work on their own individual defending, but a leader must emerge whether it be upon De Rosario's return, through Chris Pontius or even if DeLeon takes matters into his own hands with his menacing pace and desire. Luckily for Ben Olsen and DC United who fall 0-8-1 all-time in Houston will not have to return to the BBVA Compass Stadium – unless a possible encounter in the MLS Playoffs is in the making.
DC United Man of the Match: Bill Hamid
DC United's Next Match: March 9th 7pm at RFK Stadium against Real Salt Lake
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)