Notebook: Houston shakes off struggles at HDC

Dynamo win first game in Carson since May 8, 2010

The Home Depot Center has been a bit unkind to the Houston Dynamo in the past year and half.

Before Sunday night’s 1-0 win against Chivas USA, Houston had dropped their last four games in Carson, Calif., by a combined 9-1 scoreline – including a heart-breaking 1-0 loss in last season’s MLS Cup final to the LA Galaxy. With that in mind, it would be understandable if there were some tough feelings as the Dynamo walked into the visitor’s locker room before Sunday’s match.

“It’s not just [the MLS Cup final loss] but we lost 3-0 last year to Chivas here,” Andre Hainault, who provided the stoppage-time winner against Chivas USA, told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “It was kind of funny thinking ‘Man, we were in here a couple of months ago.’ But this [win] isn’t going to get that win back.”

While winning at the HDC on Sunday will not clinch a third MLS Cup title, it does put to bed worries of a repeat of 2011’s road woes and starts the Dynamo’s tough seven-game road trip on the right foot.

“There was talk about not winning on the road last year for a while, so it was good to get that win on the road and get that out of the way,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “It was a good way to start the season, with the goal and a shutout. All in all, I think it was a big positive for us.”

Hockey helps inspire Hainault's winner

Before Hainault’s game-winning strike, the Canadian defender was aleady thinking about putting a shot in the back of the net. What type of net he was thinking of may be up for debate. The Montreal native drew on Canada’s pastime to set up the goal.

“I was thinking hockey for a second, and yeah it came to me,” Hainault said of his goal. “I knew [Adam Moffat] was going to hit it because he’s got a heck of a right foot, and I just set up and thought ‘Maybe there’s a rebound or a deflection.’ I knew they’d be coming back half offside, and I just turned and put it across [Dan] Kennedy.”

Defense comes up big for Dynamo

While the game-winner gets the headlines, Hainault and his backline teammates played a big role in Houston’s victory. Seemingly headed for a draw, the Dynamo defense came through time and again, giving the Chivas attack few chances to turn the scoreline in their favor.

“I think it was big because it didn’t seem like we were going to get any [goals],” Hainault said. “When Brian [Ching] hit that post, it was tough, so we wanted to hold strong. We didn’t want to give one back and it turned out well. I think it’s big for Tally [Hall] and the whole team going forward to get that shutout.”

Darrell Lovell can be reached for comment at Darrell.A.Lovell@gmail.com.