It was a back and forth game, filled with hard tackles and challenges, but in the end, two defensive breakdowns were all San Jose needed to break the deadlock and giving the home side all three points.
The first half was a relatively balanced 45 minutes of action with both teams fighting hard to take control of the game and create chances. Both goal keepers were tested and forced to make saves, and neither team was able to take the lead.
The Dynamo were forced to play Geoff Cameron as a center back due to the absence of Andre Hainault and Jermaine Taylor, who are both out, along with JeVaughn Watson, participating for their national teams in the Gold Cup. Cameron played alongside Bobby Boswell, Hunter Freeman, and Mike Chabala, who continued to play well now that he is seeing more minutes.
Cameron’s switch to defense meant Brad Davis rotated into the center of the midfield, playing in front of Lovel Palmer and in between Danny Cruz, who returned from a knee injury, and Colin Clark.
The second half opened with action at both ends, and in the 69th minute, San Jose forward Steven Lenhart finally broke the Dynamo defense and scored the opening goal of the night. Lenhart connected a diving header on the end of a Steven Beitashour cross and his shot slipped past the outstretched arms of Dynamo goal keeper Tally Hall. Lenhart started his run from the center of the pitch and split the space between Bobby Boswell and Hunter Freeman, creating just enough room to get the header off and score the goal.
Following the goal, Houston substituted Danny Cruz off in favor of Corey Ashe. But, the move was too little too late and, despite pressing hard, the Dynamo were unable to convert any of their late chances.
In the dying moments of the game, Simon Dawkins was able to exploit Houston’s back line, which has pushed far up the pitch looking for an equalizer, and found himself one-on-one with Tally Hall, but was able to fire a right footed shot past the keeper, extending San Jose’s lead to two.
All in all, the night’s scoreline may be a bit misleading and there are some positives to take away from the match. Geoff Cameron looked excellent in the center of the defense; his distribution, marking, and runs were excellent. Colin Clark looks to be building his confidence and form with each passing week and had some moments of individual skill and flair against San Jose. Danny Cruz returned from injury and, while not 100-percent, contributed tonight and gave Houston a bit of the offensive spark they were missing the past few weeks.
There are, of course outside the scoreline, some negatives to take away from Saturday night’s performance. While Cam Weaver and Will Bruin continue to create scoring chances, neither forward is finding the back of the net. Brad Davis, who played in the CAM roll on the night, was not his usual effective self most of the match. With the Geoff Cameron experiment looking closer to being over, it is certain that Houston need to aggressively pursue an attack-minded and creative center midfielder. For what feels like the 8th week in a row, Houston were beat on goals that were the result of mental mistakes by the defense. At some point, the defenders need to figure it out and find a way to stop making these mistakes.
Check here or over at DynamoTheory.com on Sunday for post-match thoughts, quotes, highlights, and more.