It’s pretty clear the Houston Dynamo tend to use their home field to get back on the right path. After last week’s tough loss against Real Salt Lake, Houston was in need of a good result. On Saturday night, the men in orange got what they needed with another important victory at BBVA Compass Stadium, this time against the LA Galaxy.
Giles Barnes gets credit for the winning goal, but a solid defensive effort – led by David Horst – preserved not only the victory, but a well deserved clean sheet for Tally Hall in the 1-0 win.
Things didn’t start out great for the defense, however.
In the opening seconds of the game, Barnes sent a back pass directly to the opponents and the Galaxy were able to break away with numbers against the Dynamo backline. Jermaine Taylor tried to keep Samuel contained as best he could, but the Brazilian cut inside and fired a shot just outside the far post. Houston dodged a bullet on that defensive lapse.
Had that been Robbie Keane rather than Samuel, this game would have started much differently.
Houston stabilized after the early scare, but were given a blow when midfielder and Honduran World Cup hopeful Boniek Garcia appeared to land awkwardly after receiving a pass. Garcia obviously knew something was off when he immediately called for a sub and hit the floor.
Luckily for Garcia, the injury appears to be minor and he headed out to join his Honduran teammates for World Cup preparation on Monday.
Omar Cummings, Super Sub
Dominic Kinnear had a couple of midfield options on the bench Saturday, but opted for striker Omar Cummings to replace Garcia. Who would think this substitution would be the talk of the night – and in a good way?
Cummings made an immediate impact and had a solid night in an unfamiliar position. It’s nights like this that may shed some light on the reasoning for bringing a man like Cummings to Houston. Although he’s one of the Dynamo’s higher salaries, has been sidelined with multiple injures, and spends much of his time on the bench, Cummings came into the unfamiliar role and excelled in it. He was arguably Houston’s most active offensive weapon for long patches of the game, and was able to get back on defense when needed.
Horst Comes Up Big
The biggest defensive stop came in the 38′ when David Horst cleared a shot from the goal line with his head. Horst’s fiery play continues to lead Houston’s backline and even though he’s played only 11 games in orange, folks aren’t looking back at the loss of Bobby Boswell any more. Horst rarely has a bad game and is normally a man of the match candidate week after week.
Not only was save an incredible defensive play, it was a moment where the Dynamo showed they have each other’s back. Cummings was easily shaken by A.J. De la Garza on the play and his shot was beyond the reach of Hall.
Barnes Adds Another Highlight
The Dynamo had a number of decent chances to score, but only one mattered. In the 61′ Houston took advantage of a Galaxy error and Giles Barnes made the visitors pay with a heck of a goal (something he’s know for).
Most highlight the goal was set up by a defensive error and certainly Greg Gargan put his goalkeeper Jaime Penedo in a tough spot, but the strike was simply a well placed, quality shot.
Barnes’ goal wouldn’t have been possible without highlighting the hustle of Mark Sherrod. He attacked Penedo and pressured him into a mistake, gathered the loose ball, and gave Barnes a perfect pass.
Barnes didn’t think twice – and he rarely does. He went straight for goal with a soft touch that rounded the two defenders covering the goal and ricocheted off the post and in.
The win was a very important three points for Houston. The Dynamo now have 17 points on the season, with a 5-5-2 record and a grip on third place in the Eastern Conference.
While Houston has a decent spot in the standings, not all was perfect on a night that saw the team struggle with poor passing for stretches and far too many giveaways in the midfield. Additionally, although Mark Sherrod is having an outstanding rookie season, Dominic Kinnear still has some work to do to put his best offensive lineup on the field. Cummings certainly made a case for himself for a starting spot and I’d still like to see him paired with Will Bruin for a few games. That’s a forward tandem I’m still dying to watch.
Weary Road Ahead
Houston will take to the road for three straight games – somewhere they’re having their usual struggles. The Dynamo are 1-3-1 away from home and will face D.C. United, San Jose, and Colorado next.
With each win, the questions begin about whether the Dynamo have turned a corner after an up and down start to 2014. Houston will have to piece together multiple good games to accomplish that. These next three games will be a huge test for the team.
What are your thoughts on the Dynamo win over the Galaxy? And what point total is the minimum expectation on the three game road trip? Leave your comments below.