Interim Head Coach Wade Barrett took the job suddenly in May and has been forced to act on his feet with little in the way of preparation ever since. During that stretch, he’s only lost one game while getting points in the rest in league play. He won both of his US Open Cup matches, and pushed his team to a quarterfinal appearance against arch rival FC Dallas. He’s done everything asked of him except win a league match.
That ended Saturday night when Cristian Maidana hit a free kick for the ages to give the Dynamo the full three points against Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union.
At the start of the game, eyebrows were raised with Barrett’s personnel choices, specifically the choice to start Giles Barnes at right midfield over in-form Andrew Wenger. It was passed off as needed rotation with the tight schedule due to the Open Cup.
In what is becoming quite common, the Dynamo did a great job of controlling the game by intercepting passes and limiting the Union to no real chances in the first half. Meanwhile the offense did create several half chances and even a couple quality ones. No matter how well the offense did to serve balls into the box, Jamaican international Andre Blake smothered them all. In fact it was the outside backs who were able to deliver quality balls into the box. All of Will Bruin’s shots, along with a hell of a header from Barnes, bounced off the brick wall that was Blake.
With the score deadlocked at half time, the Union started to take control of the match and the game started slipping away from the Dynamo. It was almost an exact repeat of the game in Portland, but Barrett showed that he learned his lesson well. He substituted Cristian Maidana and the game became far more even. Mauro Manotas coming in for Will Bruin added more bite to the Dynamo’s counter attack as it allowed them to move the ball up the field centrally instead of just wide.
Just how effective was the Dynamo’s attack? To the tune of 82% passing percentage while winning 64% of their headers. Eight shots were on target. It’s the best performance the Dynamo have put out under Barrett.
And it was against the best the East had to offer.
The lone goal came when Maurice Edu was whistled for a foul at the top of the D, receiving a yellow card in the 94th minute. Maidana stepped up to the ball and sent in a beautiful shot past a flat-footed Blake to win the game.
With the win, Houston has moved up into a tie with Seattle for dead last in the Western Conference. Progress!
Seriously, the Dynamo have to be filled with a ton of confidence as they held one of the best offenses in the league scoreless. They got lucky in the winner, but any team looking to come together and go on a run is going to need some luck, It was a well deserved victory.
Is it possible for them to make a challenge for the playoffs? No, no not really no. But what they can do is work out the kinks in the team, specifically in offense, and put together one heck of a squad for next season. They can win the Open Cup and avoid the Wooden Spoon. They can rebound, and this can be the start of that.