The Columbus Crew dominated the attack throughout the entirety of tonight’s game against the Houston Dynamo. Right from the start, the Crew attacked Houston’s back line and forced the team into silly mistakes and fouls.
Defender Mike Chabala saw red in the first two minutes of the game and Bobby Boswell also received a yellow in the first half.
Emilio Renteria opened up the scoring for the Columbus Crew in the 34th minute after when he scored off a howler of an error by Dynamo goal keeper Tally Hall. Hall ran to the edge of the box to collect the ball and slid to gather it, only to fumble the ball into the feet of the onrushing Renteria, who was able to coolly slot the ball into the back of the net.
The Crew dominated play and possession for all of the first half and limited Houston to just one shot on goal.
The Dynamo seemed to make the right moves at the start of the second half, bringing on Danny Cruz and Joseph Ngwenya for Cam Weaver and Corey Ashe.
The attacking moves were in vain, though, once defender Bobby Boswell was ejected after seeing his second red card in the 72nd minute. Once Houston was down to ten men, a losing result seemed inevitable, especially considering the team’s lack of creativity in attack,
Andy Iro make sure the Crew took away all three points from tonight’s game when he doubled the home team’s lead in the 84th minute after deflecting a Schelotto free kick from just outside the Dynamo box.
Houston’s misery was compounded in extra time with MLS rookie and former Dynamo trialist, Leandre Griffit scored his first goal in his first appearance for Columbus. Griffit scored after a Schelotto shot was deflected out to his feet by Tally Hall, which he was able to collect and neatly slot into the back of the net.
While the Crew was easily the better of the two sides tonight, mistakes by Houston and a total lack of creativity in attack seriously limited the team’s chances of taking anything away from the match.
Houston’s starting attacking pair of Ching and Weaver lacked the speed necessary to carry out and extend attacking runs. The addition of Ngwenya added some creativity, but the midfield had trouble pushing the ball to the forwards, who then could not create scoring chances.
All in all, Tally Hall had a decent game tonight. Impatient fans will be sure to lambaste him for the mistake that lead to the first goal, but it was his saves that held this game to only three goals instead of what could have been five or six.
If Houston want to have a chance at the play-offs, the team must tighten up the defense, start the most creative players in the midfielder, and start Joseph Ngwenya at forward. It seems like Houston is starting a somewhat conservative line-up only to bring on a more attacking-minded line-up later in the game. While this strategy is understandable, it seems that this is the point in the season when caution needs to be thrown out the window and any option towards winning must be explored.