- Western Conference
- Eastern Conference
- USL PRO
On Saturday night the Houston Dynamo finally had a full squad. After injuries and players on international duty caused lineup shifts for the past month, the Dynamo were able to put out their “preferred eleven” and beat the Columbus Crew 3-1.
Giles Barnes, who has played forward most of the season in a 4-4-2, was listed as a midfielder Sunday in a 4-3-3 with Brad Davis moving up to forward. It was these two who would combine to get the Dynamo on the board first. After Davis held possession in the midfield and shook off a few Crew tackles, he was able to find Barnes with his back to goal. The Englishman did well to turn, beat his defender, and get in on goal. Just as Barnes was set to shoot he was brought down in the box by Crew captain Chad Marshall. Marshall was shown yellow and Davis went to the spot. Crew keeper Matt Lampson guessed correctly but Davis’ shot was well hit to the bottom right corner and the Dynamo led 1-0 just 10 minutes in.
The Dynamo controlled most of the first half and doubled their lead in the 32nd minute. Boniek Garcia led a counter attack as he dribbled the ball through the middle of the Crew defense. Will Bruin made a run to Boniek’s left and received a pass near the top left of the box. After cutting on to his right foot Bruin hit a perfect shot to the bottom corner past Lampson. The goal was Bruin’s first since scoring twice at DC
United on May 8th. After the match Bruin talked about how the scoring drought affected him. “Whenever you go awhile without scoring it plays with your head, the change of scenery for a month, it was good to get away and kind of refresh. Sitting on the bench at the Gold Cup made me hungry to get back on the field and play and I think it’s going to be a good second half of the season.”
Dom Kinnear said he spoke with Bruin when he returned from Gold Cup duty with the US national team and he felt Bruin was “motivated and hungry”. Kinnear also added another interesting note regarding his starters and national team call ups saying “It’s almost an unwritten rule on this team; if a guy goes away and plays with the national team he doesn’t lose a place in the team.” Kinnear made this comment after
being asked whether it was a difficult decision in starting Bruin over Cam Weaver, who has played well and scored last week. It’s interesting to hear this comment by Kinnear and to me it shows that the team knows who the starters are and everyone on the bench knows their role. When it’s time to step in and play, you play and when you are back on the bench, be ready.
Kinnear felt the Dynamo could have gotten a 3rd goal to ice the game before the Crew scored but Kofi Sarkodie’s own goal in the 75th minute made things interesting for the last quarter hour. Ryan Finley settled a through ball from Kevan George and was ready to shoot when Sarkodie, back tracking, tried to tackle the ball away and instead hit a volley into the upper corner past Tally Hall.
Weaver was definitely ready to play on Saturday night as he came off the bench and iced the game with a beautiful volley in the 85th minute. Boniek again started the scoring chance with a pinpoint pass into the box from the right flank. Bruin got a touch on it and his bad trap/layoff was taken first time by Weaver with an outside of the right foot volley that only had eyes for the upper 90. Weaver’s possible Goal of the Week sealed the 3 points and moved the Dynamo back to 5th place in the Eastern Conference (thanks in part to New England’s home loss to Toronto Sunday). Ricardo Clark left the match early in the second half because of dehydration. Kinnear thinks Clark should be fine.
The Dynamo now sit just 6 points behind East leaders New York Red Bulls but do have 2 games in hand. With New England and Chicago still fairly close to them in the standings, points will be valuable each week. They won’t come easy this week though as the Dynamo will travel to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Utah to take on West leaders Real Salt Lake.
In closing, I wanted to end with one more interesting note from the post game press conference. Will Bruin when talking about his goal scoring drought said, “I think I’m getting chances. Before I left (for the Gold Cup) I don’t think I was getting that many chances as I had tonight. I could have easily had three goals.” Obviously Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia being away with national team duties and injuries played a role in this but you could tell just how much Bruin relies on both of these players. I don’t think it was a jab at others players on the team but more of a comment on how much the Dynamo rely on Davis and Boniek. Bruin, Weaver, and Ching aren’t forwards who are great at creating their own chances. They depend heavily on service from the midfielders. Without that Bruin felt lost. Now that the “preferred eleven” (Bruin’s term) is back it’s time for the Dynamo to make a run toward the top of the East and head into the playoffs on a high note.
(image courtesy of Houston Dynamo)