Skip to content

Drilling down on: Houston Dynamo 3, D.C. United 1

Nov 11, 2012, 6:49 PM EDT

DC United v Houston Dynamo - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 1 Getty Images

Considering all, the visitors can feel OK about the way they played down in Houston. Against the most trying of circumstances, coach Ben Olsen’s team had a good plan, and then was sharper and more committed in the opening minutes.

The reward was a halftime lead … but it all fell apart as D.C. United simply could not keep up, the miles and playoff wear and tear all catching up.

So, credit United with a big, brave effort – but then credit the Houston Dynamo for taking advantage of with the road weary travelers and grabbing this Eastern Conference finals series by the neck.

The Dynamo found the flanks and found three goals after the break in a 3-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. So they’ll take that 3-1 lead into next week’s second leg of the total goals series at RFK Stadium.

Man of the Match:

Yes, Andrew Hainault deserved at least a yellow card (and possibly a red) for his drag-down on United midfielder Raphael Augusto just before halftime. But he didn’t get caught. And with that, Houston’s center back remained on the field to have a terrific influence, heading away everything within challenging range and being a major bother on set-pieces. He was also Andrew On the Spot to push in Houston’s first goal, a big one as the home team climbed back into the game.

Threesome of knowledge: What we learned

Young scorers keep getting it done: Nick DeLeon’s first half goal for D.C. United may not look so big now, but if United can score a goal or two early at RFK, the rookie’s latest playoff contribution will begin to look absolutely massive.

What a week for the first-year man out of Louisville. His goal for D.C. United on Thursday at Red Bull Arena is surely the proud organization’s biggest strike in five years. Sunday, by staying alert and following the play, DeLeon was in the right spot to finish strong and give his team some hope in the series.

What DeLeon is doing for United, Will Bruin is doubling down on, at least, for Houston. His busy ways are always troublesome for opposition defenders. But when Bruin is stacking the misery by also scoring goals, Houston’s second-year man really does become a force.

Bruin crashed into position to finish Giles Barnes’ brilliant work along the flank in the 68th minute. That was the game-winner, not to mention his fourth goal of the playoffs. It was also his 21st goal in 61 appearances, regular season and playoffs included. That’s blue ribbon production for a second-year man.

It’s a series of attrition: United is feeling every tick of the season-long clock, and especially feeling the burn of a tough series against New York.

Missing goalkeeper Bill Hamid, right back Andy Najar, creative engine Dwayne De Rosario and defender Daniel Woolard to start, they were also without starting midfielders Chris Pontius and Marcelo Saragosa before halftime Sunday.

Pontius’ loss was potentially devastating. Not only did the livewire left-sided attacker represent the team’s top threat on offense, but leaving so early (in the 12th minute) forced Olsen to burn an early sub.

(Olsen had asked the young attacker whether a groin injury was well enough for starter’s duty. Pontius said it was, so he got the go-ahead. The point is, players sometimes let their emotions take over. It’s up to the coach to insist on honest conversations in these cases. You wonder if Olsen, still a young coach, learned a big  lesson here?)

Since Pontius is now further ailing with a groin problem, it’s possible he could be in trouble for the return leg, too.

Houston is in better shape at this point, but only slightly. Adam Moffat had to leave before intermission, completing the depletion of Houston’s central midfield core. Ricardo Clark was out of the 18-man game-day roster, also injured. Same for center back Jermaine Taylor, although Hainault proved more than adequate as a replacement.

Shame to see this series settled with so many influencers out, but that’s the deal when the playoff schedule gets compressed as it does.

Houston found its way after intermission: United really should feel good about it’s opening 45 minutes. More than getting the tactics right, and more than being the more committed team in tackles and challenges for second balls, they “out-Houstoned” the Dynamo.

Houston plays direct, safe and conservative. They let the other guys make the mistakes and then look to pounce. But United was better at limiting the booboos. Houston center back Bobby Boswell got dragged out of position on the goal, for instance, and then got caught ball watching as DeLeon crashed in uncontested.

Meanwhile, Houston forced ball after ball down the center, mostly with no joy.

Second half looked like a different match. With United increasingly knackered, the Dynamo finally found the flanks. They got balls wide to Mac Kandji, Oscar Boniek Garcia or Bruin. Fullbacks Kofi Sarkodi and Corey Ashe found the wide, advanced spaces, too.

That was the game.

Packaged for take-away

  • Houston ends its first campaign at BBVA Compass Stadium undefeated at their new ground. Going back to the Robertson Stadium days, the Dynamo are unbeaten in 30 straight matches in all competitions.
  • Sarkodi, Houston’s right back, is growing into the playoffs. He was excellent Sunday.
  • Boswell had the defensive play of the match, heading Rafael Augusto’s shot off the line in the 65th minute.
  • Houston is not getting a lot from right-sided attacker Oscar Boniek Garcia in the playoffs. He’s not bad, but nothing special so far in the post-season.
  • In his defense, Boniek Garcia did provide some late inspiration with hustle-bustle. When you’re not doing much else, you can always bounce in spirited effort.
  • Joe Willis, in United goal for the suspended Hamid, did everything he needed to do. He could do nothing on any of the Dynamo goals, contributed a couple of big saves and handled all the crosses within reach with sure hands and plenty of composure.
  • Willis’ best moment came 77 minutes in, as he pawed away Sarkodi’s volley from close range.
Latest Posts
  1. Mourinho praises Crystal Palace after shocking Chelsea loss

    Aug 29, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT

    Mourinho Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho gave lots of credit to today’s worthy opponent, but did stay somewhat true to his nature.

  2. Stoke City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion: Nine-man Potters downed by Rondon

    Aug 29, 2015, 12:04 PM EDT

    Afellay and Adam sent off as Baggies down Potters on Pulis’ return.

  3. Bournemouth 1-1 Leicester City: Foxes stay unbeaten thanks to late Vardy penalty

    Aug 29, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT

    AFC Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels, right, and Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)     UNITED KINGDOM OUT    -    NO SALES     -    NO ARCHIVES AP

    Artur Boruc got a piece of Vardy’s penalty attempt, but not enough. 1-1.

  4. Aston Villa 2-2 Sunderland: Visitors battle back for point at Villa Park

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: Brad Guzan of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on August 22, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Yann M’Vila and Jeremain Lens scored for Sunderland, with Scott Sinclair striking twice for Aston Villa in between.

  5. Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace: Blues stunned at home by Eagles

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT

    Mourinho loses second home game in 100 PL matches as Chelsea boss.

  6. Manchester City 2-0 Watford: Sterling scores, hosts make history in comfortable win

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:51 AM EDT

    during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Getty Images

    City has now won 10-straight Premier League matches across seasons, and has yet to concede a goal this season.

  7. Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Spurs get their first win of the season? Watch live online, here.

  8. After narrow win vs. 10-man Newcastle, Wenger talks striker transfers: “We are working on it”

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger awaits the start of their English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell) AP

    Wenger admitted his Premier League club would like an elite striker before the transfer deadline closes on Monday.

  9. Premier League at the half: Beautiful goals, and big club stalemates

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini celebrates scoring the first goal of the match during the English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool  at Anfield, Liverpool, England Saturday Aug. 29, 2015. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES NO ARCHIVE AP

    Some spectacular goals highlight Saturday’s 10 a.m. ET Premier League matches, and should have folks queuing up for the second halves of play.

  10. WATCH: Callum Wilson’s bicycle kick lifts Bournemouth into an early lead

    Aug 29, 2015, 10:48 AM EDT

    AFC Bournemouth's Callum Wilson celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Leicester City at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)     UNITED KINGDOM OUT     -    NO SALES     -    NO ARCHIVES AP

    Wilson found himself in perfect position to finish off a great scoring opportunity as he gave Bournemouth a 1-0 lead over Leicester City with this gorgeous goal.

  11. WATCH: Yann M’Vila’s gorgeous free kick gives Sunderland a brief lead

    Aug 29, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT

    SAFC.com SAFC.com

    The Premier League’s lesser lights are making up for the lack of offensive fireworks from Arsenal’s early win over 10-man Newcastle.

  12. Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    Christian Benteke, John O'Shea AP

    USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan is between the sticks for the hosts, with Rudy Gestede getting a start up top.

  13. Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal: Gunners play up a man 74 minutes, need own goal to win

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:40 AM EDT

    Newcastle United's goalkeeper Tim Krul, left, vies for the ball with Arsenal's Theo Walcott, right, during their English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell) AP

    Arsenals critics will be out in full force after its strike force struggled to break down 10-man Newcastle at St. James Park on Saturday.

  14. Watch Live: Bournemouth vs. Leicester City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:37 AM EDT

    Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City FC Getty Images

    Callum Wilson will again lead the Cherries onto the pitch, with dangerous Ivorian attacker Max Gradel behind him.

  15. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Stoke City v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Potters and Baggies both looking for their first win of the season. Watch live online, here.

  16. Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Blues make it back-to-back wins before the international break? Watch live online, right here.

  17. Watch Live: Liverpool vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT

    Coutinho Getty Images

    Can the Reds keep their unbeaten run to start the season going? Watch live online, here.

  18. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Watford (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:16 AM EDT

    Sergio Aguero, Manchester City FC Getty Images

    The Citizens have scored goals a-plenty and have yet to concede through three matches, and are on the verge of landing Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg.

  19. Galaxy rip referee after Cali Clasico loss: “A referee who thinks it’s all about him”

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:04 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (7) takes a shot on goal as San Jose Earthquakes defender Marvell Wynne (4) watches during the second half of an MLS soccer match Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 1-0.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) AP

    Rivero certainly doesn’t have the best reputation, but is that the right call for Keane to use to make his point?

Featured video

Premier League, Week 3 review