Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear called Tuesday's match against Árabe Unido a must-win game if his team wanted to advance out of Group A in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Orange responded on a humid but cool night at Robertson Stadium with a dominating 5-1 win over the team that had been leading the group until Tuesday. Now the Dynamo (2-1-1, 7 points) are in a tie for second place with Árabe Unido, but Houston owns the advantage on goal differential. Pachuca's win against Isidro Metapán, also on Tuesday, put them ahead of the Dynamo, making next week's matchup in Houston all the more critical.
Cam Weaver, Corey Ashe and Stuart Holden (two) all scored goals in the second half after Eddie Robinson gave the Dynamo a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
The Dynamo nearly scored just five minutes into the match when Ashe and Andrew Hainault teamed up down the right side. Hainault drew the Unido defense and fed Ashe, who found a decent angle and rifled a shot toward the net. Árabe Unido goalkeeper Carlos Bejarano made a nice save and had to make another as the shot was deflected high and came back toward the net.
Robinson did score the first goal of the game six minutes later when he took advantage of a mistake by Bejarano. Brad Davis took a corner kick from the near side, and Bejarano had a clear look at the cross. But instead of pulling it in, he dropped the ball, and Robinson was there for the easy tap-in.
Davis, who was replaced after halftime by Holden, had a nice chance in the 23rd minute. but his left-footed shot was stopped by Bejarano. Craig Waibel just missed a great chance on a header in the 31st minute, and Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall soon made his best save of the first half when he stopped Orlando Rodriguez. After getting by the Dynamo defense, Rodriguez skipped a shot toward the net that Hall seemed to misplay. The ball got by and rolled toward the goal line, but Hall dove back, made the save, and preserved the Dynamo lead entering halftime.
Weaver converted a nice cross from Ashe with a diving header in the 50th minute, before Rodriguez cut the lead in half after taking a nice chip pass from Alejandro Velez, minutes after Árabe Unido was reduced to 10 men when Omar Camargo was sent off.
Just one minute after the lead was halved, Ashe restored the two-goal margin when he fired a shot by Bejarano after taking a nice cross from Brian Mullan, although Mullan was not credited with an assist on the play because the ball nicked a defender before getting through.
In the 74th minute, Holden was unmarked in the box from about 10 yards out, and this time there was no mistake as Mullan got the helper. His perfect feed set up a diving header from Holden, who aimed for the far post and beat Bejarano, who appeared to guess near.
Should the Dynamo miss the Group A cut by a single score on goal differential, no one will feel worse than Ricardo Clark. In the 87th minute, he missed a penalty kick after Brian Ching was taken down in the box moments before. Clark aimed toward the left post, but Bejarano did too and kept the ball out of the net with his right hand.
The Dynamo still made it 5-1 in stoppage time when Holden and Abe Thompson got by the Unido defense for an easy give-and-go, Holden tapping the ball into an empty net as both players were in alone.
Andrew J. Ferraro is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
Árabe Unido (2-1-1) vs. Houston Dynamo (2-1-1)
September 22, 2009 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League -- Group A
HOU -- Eddie Robinson 1 (unassisted) 11
HOU -- Cam Weaver 1 (Corey Ashe 1) 50
AUN -- Orlando Rodriguez 5 (Alejandro Velez 1) 69
HOU -- Corey Ashe 1 (unassisted) 70
HOU -- Stuart Holden 1 (Brian Mullan 2) 74
HOU -- Stuart Holden 2 (Abe Thompson 1) 92+
Árabe Unido -- Carlos Bejarano, Jean Carlos Lopez (Nahil Carroll 53), Reynaldo Lewin, Andres Santamaria, Omar Camargo, Camilo Aguirre, Angel Rodriguez (Armando Cooper 46), Alejandro Velez, Jose Justavino, Orlando Rodriguez, Manuel Mosquera (Yahir Medina 71).
Substitutes Not Used: Francisco Castañeda, Jose Marin, Eduardo Mctaggar, Publio Rodriguez.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Craig Waibel, Andrew Hainault, Eddie Robinson (Bobby Boswell 64), Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis (Stuart Holden 46), Corey Ashe, Abe Thompson, Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 70).
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad, Mike Chabala, John Michael Hayden, Erik Ustruck.
AUN -- Omar Camargo (caution; Reckless Foul) 18
AUN -- Alejandro Velez (caution; Simulation) 26
AUN -- Andres Santamaria (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 51
AUN -- Omar Camargo (ejection; Violent Conduct) 56
HOU -- Stuart Holden (caution; Dissent) 57
AUN -- Camilo Aguirre (caution; Dissent) 62
HOU -- Brian Mullan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 64
Referee: Paul Delgadillo (MEX)
Referee's Assistants: Marcos Quintero (MEX); Arturo Velazquez (MEX)
4th official: Alex Prus
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial