After missing the live broadcast of Houston's 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes due to my wedding anniversary, I sat down Sunday afternoon to catch the game on my DVR.
All in all, it was a solid effort from the Dynamo; Tyler Deric had three good saves in his first start for the Dynamo, the defense looked much better than in weeks past, the midfield did a great job of supporting and providing service to the forwards and Dominic Oduro and Cam Weaver made good runs and created scoring chances throughout the night.
Here are the notes I made while watching.
- Glad to see Boswell back after three games out.
- Cam Weaver may have been lucky to not see red in the second minute for his challenge on Jon Busch. The challenge was a touch late and putting a boot into a goalkeeper's face is a bookable offense. It did not look overly intentional but was still reckless.
- The Dynamo opened up the match very strong and very offensive-minded, just like they have the last 5 or 6 games. The team seems to play their best when they make a conscious effort to start physical and aggressive.
- Houston's back line of Hainault, Boswell, Robinson and Chabala had not started together in the last 3-4 weeks. They may have shown some shakiness throughout the season but the defense played well Saturday night.
- Dominic Oduro, sure he can be frustrating, but he has come alive at the tail end of this season and is a player I want to see sign a new contract agreement. Strikers are tough to find in MLS, especially for cheap, and his knowledge of the team and Coach Kinnear's system is a valuable asset. Plus, right now he is full of confidence and you have to hope he carries that into next season.
- Corey Ashe's contract also ends after this season. I think if we can keep him at a low salary, then the team needs to sign him to a new deal. Even if he only plays as a substitute or a back-up, he should be able to make enough of an impact to justify his wages. His crossing seems to have improved and hopefully he can work on his balance and crossing at speed in the offseason.
- Andrew Hainault's goalscoring header in the 23rd minute was only his second goal this year, but the defender has come close a number of times on set pieces and corners, and you hope he can find that heading form next season.
- Houston's play on set pieces looked much better on Saturday night. Corner kicks were beating the first man and players were getting good looks on goal.
- Danny Cruz, Corey Ashe and Mike Chabala's crossing was spot on for nearly the entire game. The forwards will score goals if the service to them is good.
- Brad Davis' shot off the post in the 36th minute of the match was an example of something missing from this season. The team needs to take more shots from the center of the pitch and test keepers from range.
- Cam Weaver's shots from headers have been decent this season, but the forward needs to start using (and scoring) with his feet.
- Houston's midfield did a much better job of switching positions throughout Saturday's game. There were a number of times when Lovel Palmer would slide to the outside and Corey Ashe will fill in in the middle of the pitch, covering Palmer's position. Davis and Palmer also switched positions on a number of occasions and looked comfortable throughout the match.
- At the end of the first half it was the Dynamo who looked like a playoff team, dominating possession, passing and shooting.
- Left back Mike Chabala had a great game. He had a number of blocks and deflections that prevented balls from testing Tyler Deric and was effective when pushing up the pitch in support of the attack.
- The game got a bit testy and physical in the 80th minute when Arturo Alvarez took a dive on the edge of the box following a challenge from Mike Chabala. Bobby Bowell was quick to run over, get in his face and call Alvarez out for the simulation. The sequence of play leading up to and following the dive involved extremely physical play and a number of hard fouls from both teams.
- Cam Weaver and Dominic Oduro played the full 90 minutes and pressured Busch throughout. They may not have had the option to be substituted off, but it is always nice to see your forwards play and press for the full game.
- Tyler Deric, the 22-year old product of the Dynamo Academy, became the first home-grown Houston player to start for the team and was the first home-grown goalkeeper in Major League Soccer to record a clean sheet in their debut.
- Deric only had to make three saves in his debut, but playing in San Jose's stadium in front of a hostile crowd is a tough way for any player to get their first game. Deric's toughest moment of the night came in the 83rd minute when he was forced to go one-on-one in the air against former Dynamo player Chris Wondolowski. Deric came up big and plucked the ball off of Wondolowski's head.
- Houston's shutout was the Dynamo's first in league play since their scoreless draw with Columbus back on July 10th.
It was a physical match both teams were lucky not to pick up more cards for hard challenges. As Ginge from Dynamo Theory said, it wasn't a pretty game, but the Dynamo won't be complaining about a 1-0 victory.
Here are the stats from Saturday's victory.
Houston Dynamo (8-15-6) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (12-9-7)
October 16, 2010 -- Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara CA
HOU -- Andrew Hainault 2 (Brad Davis 10) 23
Houston Dynamo -- Tyler Deric, Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Richard Mulrooney 77), Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Corey Ashe, Cam Weaver, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad, Brian Ching, Ryan Cochrane, Francisco Navas Cobo, Anthony Obodai, Adrian Serioux.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Chris Leitch (Ramiro Corrales 61), Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Tim Ward, Chris Wondolowski, Sam Cronin (Cornell Glen 73), Khari Stephenson (Arturo Alvarez 61), Bobby Convey, Ryan Johnson, Geovanni.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Eduardo, Brad Ring, Scott Sealy.
SJ -- Sam Cronin (caution; Reckless Tackle) 35
SJ -- Jon Busch (caution; Dissent) 87
Houston's final game of the season is this coming Saturday, October 23, at 3 p.m. when the Dynamo host the play-off bound Seattle Sounders.