The Houston Dynamo defeated their Mexican rivals Pachuca to open SuperLiga group play Thursday night, as a Joseph Ngwenya brace held off the Tuzos 2-1.
The rivalry got off to a flying start, as Pachuca forward Dario Cvitanich had not one, but three quality chances in the first half, including two in opening 15 minutes of the game. In the sixth minute, Cvitanich was one-on-one with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, but Hall stoned Cvitanich. In the 14th minute, Cvitanich had an opportunity from just inside the top of the box but dragged his effort just wide.
Houston, on the other hand, capitalized on its first opportunity to score. In the 19th minute, Mike Chabala blasted a shot toward goal with his left foot. The effort deflected off forward Brian Ching and the ball flew in the direction of Ngwenya, who hit the ball first-time from about 18 yards out to beat Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero.
The Dynamo defense played too close to the fire much of the night, yielding several quality chances to their Mexican rivals to close out the first half, but the Tuzos were unable to convert. In the 25th minute, Ryan Cochrane failed to clear a ball, and Franco Arizala drove in on goal with the ball. Again, Hall stood tall and stoned Arizala one-on-one.
Houston’s defense finally got burned in the 51st minute. Jose Francisco Torres and Damian Manso played a perfect give-and-go. Manso received the ball on the edge of the six-yard box and ripped a shot that slipped underneath Hall to knot the score at 1-1.
In the 61st minute, Houston looked like it had regained the lead, but Brian Ching was flagged for offside, nullifying a goal. Danny Cruz took a Dynamo free kick just outside the penalty area and Calero did well to save the blast. Ching pounced on the rebound and finished, but the linesman had signaled for offside - a decision replays revealed to be suspect.
Late in the match, Ngwenya and Calero had to be separated when the Pachuca goalkeeper took offense to Ngwenya's late attempt at a ball Calero had collected. As Ngwenya attempted to apologize, Calero pushed him aside. The Dynamo player, though, got his revenge on Calero in the 85th minute. A Corey Ashe free kick found Ngwenya at the near post, and his header beat Calero to put Houston up 2-1.
Pachuca battled back late again through defender Daniel Arreola, who collected a ball from 30 yards out and ripped an effort that looked destined for the corner of the net. Hall, though, parried the ball over the crossbar, and the final whistle blew minutes later.
With the victory, Houston moves to first place in the group with three points, pending the finish of the match between Chivas USA and Puebla. On Sunday, Robertson Stadium will host a doubleheader, as Houston will take on Chivas USA in the first game at 7 p.m., with Pachuca and Puebla squaring off at 9:30 p.m.
Pachuca (0-1-0) vs. Houston Dynamo (1-0-0)
July 15, 2010 -- Robertson Stadium
SuperLiga -- Group A
HOU -- Joseph Ngwenya 1 (unassisted) 19
PAC -- Damian Manso 1 (Jose Francisco Torres 1) 51
HOU -- Joseph Ngwenya 2 (Corey Ashe 1) 85
Pachuca -- Miguel Calero, Paul Aguilar, Javier Munoz Mustafa, Carlos Rodriguez, Daniel
Arreola, Raul Martinez, Jose
Francisco Torres, Braulio Luna (Edy Brambila 46), Damian Manso, Dario Cvitanich
(Luis Montes 66), Franco Arizala (Herculez Gomez 57).
Substitutes Not Used: Rodolfo Cota, Marco Perez, Juan Rojas, Marco Vidal.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, Ryan
Cochrane, Eddie Robinson (Bobby Boswell 46), Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz
(Brian Mullan 70), Richard Mulrooney (Adrian Serioux 70), Lovel Palmer,
Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 56), Brian Ching, Joseph Ngwenya.
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Dominic Oduro, Cam Weaver.
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 16
PAC -- Carlos Rodriguez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48
HOU -- Joseph Ngwenya (caution; Reckless Tackle) 61
PAC -- Paul Aguilar (caution; Tactical Foul) 84
Referee: Jeffrey Solis (CRC)
Referee's Assistants: Marvin Ramirez (CRC); Octavio Jara (CRC)
4th official: Jasen Anno (USA)
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial