Through the ups and downs against Chivas USA on Saturday, Houston Dynamo players never felt they were on the brink of disaster. Their reaction to an early pair of mishaps from defender Hunter Freeman is evidence of that.
In the third minute, Freeman was whistled for a foul that caused Bobby Boswell's goal to be disallowed. Then, just four minutes later, his poor back pass was intercepted by Marcos Mondaini, who scored to put Chivas 1-0 ahead.
It would have been easy to point fingers, yet after tying the game before halftime, Houston players showed their character by supporting their embattled teammate.
“I came in at halftime and just said, 'I owe you guys,' and asked them to fight hard so we could get out of it — and that’s what they did,” Freeman said. “I think the only thing you can do is own up to it and raise your hand and take blame and say, 'I’m with you guys.'"
The scene at halftime showed the character of both Freeman and his teammates. Having pulled even before the break, Houston came into the second half focused on moving forward.
“That’s what good teams do," Boswell said. "They have each other’s back."
Cameron comes through
Geoff Cameron followed up his solid performance at center back against San Jose last week with a versatile shift that included playing both central midfield and center back — and scoring the first-half equalizer.
After returning to central midfield to start the game, Cameron made several good runs into the box and used a flick header to tie the game from a Brad Davis free kick in the 29th minute. Cameron then chipped in 34 minutes at center back after Eddie Robinson went down with a knee injury. Robinson was diagnosed with a strained MCL and sat out Monday's training session.
Brian Ching makes his return
Nursing a one-goal lead, the Dynamo welcomed back forward Brian Ching, who came on in the 70th minute. In his first action since May 4, Ching helped Houston kill off the game. More importantly, he showed no effects of the plantar fasciitis injury that shelved him for more than a month.
“I thought he had some pretty good movement when he was in,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He slipped through there at the end, and his movement was very good. Now we just need to get him 90-minutes fit.”
Academy goalkeeper joins training
With Evan Newton on loan to FC Tampa Bay, the Dynamo have used two different former college goalkeepers as a third option in training sessions, welcoming Zach Carr (Stevens Institute of Technology) and Chris Dodd (Houston Baptist) for separate stints. Monday saw Dynamo Academy goalkeeper Pat Wall join the training session, and he is expected to continue throughout the summer. A standout at Strake Jesuit as both a defender and a defender, Wall has been with the Dynamo Academy since its inception in January 2007. He recently completed his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame, although he redshirted the soccer season and retains four years of eligibility.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.