Their dreams of qualifying for a fifth consecutive postseason since moving to Texas may be long dead, but theare not willing to mail in the remainder of their 2010 schedule.
Houston defender Andrew Hainault scored with a diving header in the 23rd minute and Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric posted a shutout in his MLS debut as the former beat the current 1-0 on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
It was a second win in the space of four matches for Houston (8-15-6), which had been on a 2-11-5 slide since May 22, and it allowed the Dynamo to leapfrog Chivas USA and out of last place in the Western Conference. A victory in the season finale at home against Seattle would provide Houston a nice bit of momentum to carry into 2011.
San Jose (12-9-7) lost for the second time in as many home games, and despite clinching a postseason berth with two weekends to spare, the Earthquakes' performance against Houston on Saturday night was hardly playoff-worthy.
Quakes coach Frank Yallop said earlier in the week that his foremost goal for his team’s final three matches was to avoid having any starters get injured. That made things all the more frightening for San Jose in the first minute of the match when Houston’s Corey Ashe fed a cross from the left wing to the edge of the Quakes’ six-yard box, and keeper Jon Busch took an inadvertent boot to the head from Dynamo forward Cam Weaver.
Weaver’s studs caused a laceration to Busch’s left earlobe that bled quickly and profusely enough for Dynamo forward Dominic Oduro to call for a trainer. The game was delayed for seven minutes while Busch had his head swathed in bandages and changed to a fresh jersey, but he continued in net.
Busch could do nothing to keep out Hainault’s diving header, which came off a corner kick by Brad Davis in the 23rd minute. The ball buzzed over the head of Quakes midfielder Bobby Convey, who was stationed at the near post, and rippled the roof of the net.
That was hardly the Dynamo’s only bite at the apple. Davis, racing onto a loose pass from Sam Cronin, beat Busch from 35 yards but banged his shot off the left post in the 37th minute. Weaver followed up in a matter of seconds with a free header from 10 yards that Busch did well to parry over the crossbar.
Oduro had a free run at goal in the 66th minute after Ramiro Corrales – making his first appearance since Aug. 7 – and Geovanni conspired to turn the ball over in the Quakes’ defensive third, but Busch charged out and body-blocked Oduro’s attempt from 12 yards. It marked Busch's third stop of an Oduro shot on goal in the second half.
With Tally Hall slowed by a high ankle sprain and Pat Onstad nursing a hand injury, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear tapped the home-grown Deric to man the nets on Saturday. The 22-year-old product of the Dynamo Academy became the youngest goalkeeper to start a game for Houston and the first home-grown player to start an MLS match.
The Quakes did not test Deric much, however, barely putting the ball on net and forcing Deric to make only three saves on the night. Deric briefly bobbled the first shot he faced, on a 30-yard rip from Chris Wondolowski in the 28th minute, but did well to cleanly hold a couple of second-half drives from Arturo Alvarez.
San Jose did penetrate Houston’s defense periodically with long balls ahead and passes back to cutting teammates, but on multiple occasions, Houston defender Mike Chabala broke up the play with deft touches.
Convey's 15-yard shot in second-half injury time glanced off the outside of the near post. The final act of drama came when Wondolowski almost forced a tie with the final touch of the match, but his volley from 30 yards out parachuted over the crossbar as the whistle sounded.
Houston Dynamo (8-15-6) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (12-9-7)
October 16, 2010 -- Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara CA
HOU -- Andrew Hainault 2 (Brad Davis 10) 23
Houston Dynamo -- Tyler Deric, Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Richard Mulrooney 77), Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Corey Ashe, Cam Weaver, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad, Brian Ching, Ryan Cochrane, Francisco Navas Cobo, Anthony Obodai, Adrian Serioux.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Chris Leitch (Ramiro Corrales 61), Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Tim Ward, Chris Wondolowski, Sam Cronin (Cornell Glen 73), Khari Stephenson (Arturo Alvarez 61), Bobby Convey, Ryan Johnson, Geovanni.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Eduardo, Brad Ring, Scott Sealy.
SJ -- Sam Cronin (caution; Reckless Tackle) 35
SJ -- Jon Busch (caution; Dissent) 87
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland; Eric Boria
4th official: Ricardo Salazar
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-65-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial