Brad Davis converted two penalties two minutes apart as the Houston Dynamo defeated Real Salt Lake Thursday night at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo offense could not generate a shot on goal in the run of play, but the pair of penalties, both whistled against Jamison Olave, were all that needed to earn the three points.
The Dynamo started out sluggish and Real Salt Lake punished them early. In the 18th minute, Ryan Cochrane stepped up on Alvaro Saborio, who received the ball with his back to goal, withstood Cochrane’s challenge and fed Javier Morales with a clever through ball. The RSL midfielder broke in on Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad and calmly put away his third goal in two games. The first half was a physical affair, with referee Jair Marrufo letting both teams dig into each other. The end result was, other than the goal, a lack of offensive punch for either team as both sides struggled to work the ball through a congested midfield.
In the 28th minute, the Robertson Stadium faithful held its collective breath when forward Brian Ching collapsed clutching his left hamstring. He was immediately subbed off, replaced by Luis Angel Landin.
The second half was a much more riveting affair. The Dynamo came out of the locker room and pressed the issue from the kick off. Their efforts were rewarded when midfielder Geoff Cameron was dragged down by Olave just inside the left edge of the RSL box. Marrufo immediately pointed to the spot, and Davis drilled his first goal of the season past ‘keeper Nick Rimando.
In the 55th minute, Olave again was the culprit. Landin collected the ball inside the RSL area and cut back cleverly to try to free himself for a shot. Just as he spun, Olave slid in and appeared to clip Landin’s foot. The Dynamo striker certainly put on the hard sell, but again Marrufo pointed to the spot.
Again Davis stepped up, and again he beat Rimando with a well-taken penalty just inside the right post.
The defending champions did not go down without a fight, though. In the 63rd minute, Will Johnson found himself on the end of a Morales cross, but Pat Onstad slid over to shut down the angle. Then, in the 71st, Robbie Findley and Fabian Espindola led a swift counterattack. Espindola beat defender Bobby Boswell and ripped his shot on goal. Onstad was beaten, but Espindola’s shot rocketed off the post
A scrum between Espindola and Boswell just before the final whistle raised tempers and resulted in yellow cards. But in the end, Houston was able to held on for the 2-1 win and the full points.
Real Salt Lake (1-1-0) vs. Houston Dynamo (1-0-1)
April 01, 2010 –- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
RSL -- Javier Morales 3 (Alvaro Saborio 1, Kyle Beckerman 1) 18
HOU -- Brad Davis 1 (penalty kick) 52
HOU -- Brad Davis 2 (penalty kick) 55
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy (Andy Williams 67), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson (Nelson Gonzalez 75), Alvaro Saborio (Robbie Findley 60), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Jean Alexandre, Tony Beltran, Rauwshan McKenzie.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Ryan Cochrane, Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan (Corey Ashe 68), Geoff Cameron, Richard Mulrooney, Brad Davis (Lovel Palmer 89), Dominic Oduro, Brian Ching (Luis Angel Landin 31).
Substitutes Not Used: Tally Hall, Danny Cruz, Adrian Serioux, Cam Weaver.
RSL -- Chris Wingert (caution; Reckless Foul) 46+
RSL -- Jamison Olave (caution; Reckless Foul) 54
RSL -- Fabian Espindola (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 94+
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 94+
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Jeff Muschik
4th official: Elias Bazakos
Weather: Clear and 68 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial