Dynamo defeat TFC to keep pace in East
Cruz’s first goal of the season broke a scoreless tie in the 50th minute after Houston captain Brian Ching sent Cruz in alone on goal. Cameron then cemented the result in the 81st minute, crushing a loose ball past Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei after a corner kick. The result extends Houston's unbeaten streak to three games and relegates Toronto to its fourth loss in five matches. The Reds remain winless on the road this season.
The Dynamo started the match with their foot firmly on the gas, putting pressure on Toronto’s back line and forcing some quality chances early that they failed to finish. Brad Davis had the best opportunity in the eighth minute after Cruz laid the ball off to Davis on the left side of the penalty box. But the normally accurate Davis sailed his shot well over the crossbar. Other than that, neither team mustered much offense.
What the match lacked in attacking fireworks, it made up for in physical explosions. A battle between TFC’s Alan Gordon and Houston's Andre Hainault raged all evening. In the 31st minute, Toronto’s Richard Eckersley’s was booked for fouling Cruz; Eckersley will miss Toronto’s next game due to yellow card accumulation.
The game finally found some life with Cruz’s goal. The 21-year-old midfielder started the play, working the bookends of a give-and-go with Ching. The striker then played a through ball to the streaking Cruz, who rushed alone and beat Frei with a side-footed shot that the TFC keeper could only nick as it went by.
The match went through another lull until the 80th minute. Frei – who had faced just two shots on goal in the first 80 minutes – suddenly saw a flurry of activity. Rookie striker Will Bruin and second-half substitute Colin Clark challenged Frei with successive shots; he saved both, and the second went out for a corner kick.
On the resulting set piece, the ball deflected around the penalty area, and Cameron slammed home his third goal of the season to put the three points firmly in the Dynamo’s column. The win improves Houston’s record to 5-6-8 on the season, and the Dynamo's 23 points put them in fourth in the Eastern conference. Toronto falls to 3-9-9 and remain on 18 points. Houston will host the fifth-place team in the East, Sporting Kansas City, next Saturday night, while Toronto will host FC Dallas on July 20.
Toronto FC (3-9-9) vs. Houston Dynamo (5-6-8)
July 09, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
HOU -- Danny Cruz 1 (Brian Ching 1) 50
HOU -- Geoff Cameron 1 (unassisted) 81
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Danleigh
Borman (Gianluca Zavarise 59), Javier Martina, Tony Tchani, Mikael
Yourassowsky, Jacob Peterson (Nick Soolsma 69), Alan Gordon, Joao Plata.
Substitutes Not Used: Doneil Henry, Demitrius Omphroy, Matt Stinson, Nathan Sturgis, Milos Kocic.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Corey
Ashe, Danny Cruz, Je-Vaughn Watson (Lovel Palmer 83), Geoff Cameron,
Brad Davis (Colin Clark 65), Will Bruin, Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 78).
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Boswell, Hunter Freeman, Jason Garey, Tyler Deric.
TOR -- Richard Eckersley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 32
TOR -- Alan Gordon (caution; Reckless Foul) 64
TOR -- Mikael Yourassowsky (caution; Reckless Tackle) 68
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Reckless Tackle) 85
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Brian Poeschel; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Ismail Elfath
Weather: Clear-and-90 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial