For what feels like the millionth time this season, the Houston Dynamo started a game with lead feet and cloudy heads, and allowed the other team to take control of the game with an early goal. Tonight, it was Chivas USA forward Justin Braun who opened up the scoring with a header in the fifth minute off of a free kick from just outside Houston’s box. The free kick was the result of some senselessly aggressive play from Houston’s defense and was unnecessary for that early in the game. Braun’s header caught the Dynamo defense on their heals after he was able to get up and over everyone for clear look at goal. For Tally Hall, this was his first goal to give up in competitive play this season, though his defense should shoulder most of the blame.
Houston’s best chance of the half came in the 28th minute when Dominic Oduro broke through the Chivas USA defense, finally onside, and found himself 1-on-1 with Zach Thornton. Oduro fired a low shot, but Thorton was able to block it with his leg, denying Houston the equalizer.
Houston Head Coach Dominic Kinnear was forced to use his first substitution of the game in the 34th minute after defender Ryan Cochrane went down following a challenge with Justin Braun. The challenge clearly rattled Cochrane, who laid splayed out on the pitch for a few moments before required assistance to get off the pitch.
While the addition of Chabala gave Houston some more mobility from the back line, it also creates space for Chivas USA to counterattack when Chabala pushes up the pitch on attack. Another tactical move Coach Kinnear made was switching Sammy Appiah and Francisco Navas Cobo to opposite sides of the pitch from where they started the game. It seems the coach wanted to use Navas Cobo’s speed to open more space along the right side of Chivas’ defense.
So far, Houston’s offense has looked relatively impotent and the midfield appears to be a bit congested with five players all vying for space and possession. The Dynamo look like they would be better suited switching over to a 3-4-3, pushing Joseph Ngwenya in attack, opening up the middle of the pitch a bit.
This has been a really physical game and players are going into challenges a bit heavy. It would not be a surprise to see a few players pick up yellow cards, and we could even see one or two ejected.