Second-half substitutes linked up when Stuart Holden delivered a beautiful ball tofor the game's only goal as the Dynamo opened CONCACAF Champions League play with a victory against Isidro Metapán of El Salvador on Wednesday night at Robertson Stadium.
With an important league match against theahead on Sunday evening, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear elected to start a mix of starters and backups. , Ade Akinbiyi, , and started in place of some of the team's regular starters. As a result, the home side seemed a little out of sorts early.
The first half for both teams was very sluggish. Isidro Metapán was content to play with a large gap between their two forwards and the rest of their side. The Dynamo maintained a significant amount of the possession, but poor service and poor finishing kept them off the scoreboard. Houston's best chance in the first half fell to Akinbiyi. In the 34th minute,sent a perfect cross to the far post to an unmarked Akinbiyi. But the Dynamo forward could not get enough on his header as the ball bounced innocently over the bar.
Both teams combined for more yellow cards in the first half than shots on goal.and Waibel picked up yellows for Houston and Jose Ricardo Alvarado and Mario Aguilar picked up yellows for Isidro Metapán.
Looking to jumpstart the match, Kinnear turned to his bench, bringing on Holden for Davis. The move almost paid immediate dividends for the Dynamo in the 54th minute. Holden drove in on goal and ripped a shot from 35 yards out. Metapán goalkeeper Alvaro Alfaro made a nice diving save to keep the game scoreless.
Houston continued to pressure the goal with several dangerous set pieces, corners, and near-misses. But in the 68th minute, the Dynamo finally got the goal their second half play deserved. Kinnear's moves paid off when two second-half subs linked up for the game-winning goal. Holden sent a pass that sliced through the Metapán defense and into the path of Ching, who was brought on only minutes earlier. As Alfaro came out to try to pressure Ching, the veteran forward calmly slid the ball into the back of the net to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Metapán attempted at times to push for an equalizer, but Houston's defense was up to the challenge each time. The Dynamo defense held Metapán without a shot on goal the entire night. When the final whistle blew, Houston had a second consecutive match with a clean sheet after going nearly a month without one.
Houston's next game is Sunday night, as the Dynamo play host to the Seattle Sounders in MLS play. The Dynamo's next game in CONCACAF Champions League play is next Wednesday night, as Houston travels to Panama to play Arabe Unido.
Isidro Metapán (0-1-0) vs. Houston Dynamo (1-0-0)
August 19, 2009 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League -- Group A
HOU -- Brian Ching 1 (Stuart Holden 1) 68
Isidro Metapán -- Alvaro Alfaro, Jose Ricardo Alvarado, Alexander Escobar, Ernesto Aquino, Ernesto Iraheta, Mario Aguilar (Oscar Jimenez 66), William Figueroa, Hector Omar Mejia, Erick Prado (Emerson Umaña 76) Anel Canales, Osvaldo Mendoza (Oscar Ulloa 53).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Bobby Boswell, Andrew Hainault, Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis (Stuart Holden 46), Corey Ashe, Ade Akinbiyi (Brian Ching 61), Dominic Oduro (Danny Cruz 75).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
HOU -- Craig Waibel (caution) 9
MET -- Jose Ricardo Alvarado (caution) 26
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution) 39
MET -- Mario Aguilar (caution) 39
MET -- Oscar Jimenez (caution) 66
MET -- Alvaro Alfaro (caution) 68
MET -- Ernesto Aquino (caution) 68
Referee: Mauricio Morales (MEX)
Referee's Assistants: Marvin Torrentera (MEX); Alejandro Ayala (MEX)
4th official: Mark Geiger
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial