With the Houston Dynamo boasting a makeshift defense on the road, the backline sure could have used a little bit of time to get accustomed to the flow of the match.
Thanks to a quick strike from speedy Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks though, they were not afforded that opportunity. The rookie’s brace on Sunday evening served as a coming out party of sorts for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, with his fourth-minute opener proving particularly difficult for Houston – missing Geoff Cameron, Andre Hainault and Jermaine Taylor to international duty – to overcome.
GOAL: Mattocks gives 'Caps early lead
“When you go down a goal in the first five minutes of the game it does open you up,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We didn’t start the game so great and pushing up it created space in behind Darren Mattocks and he becomes a dangerous player.”
Mattocks proved to be a handful all night long, using his speed and ability to tiptoe the backline and find space to create chances.
Houston found their legs and flow on the defense after the first quarter of an hour, however, and the tide started to turn, with the Dynamo creating the more dangerous chances. The visitors went on to have the better of play in the middle 45 minutes while pushing for what looked to be an inevitable equalizer.
As the Dynamo looked to pull even, however, it created that space for the Whitecaps, led by their speedy front man, to operate.
“He’s a dangerous player to begin with and then when you’re chasing the game and leaving spaces in behind it can cause you problems,” Kinnear said.
Those problems finally manifested themselves in the 66th minute when Mattocks found acres of space in behind to strike for what would stand to be the game-winner.
And even though Houston’s Mac Kandji and Vancouver’s Jordan Harvey traded late goals, it was that early goal that did the Dynamo in; chasing the game on the road against a team that could so effectively counterattack proved to be an insurmountable circumstance.
“I thought there were times that we were the better team, but at the end of the day, it’s about the score, and I think we were our own worst enemy at times,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told the media after the match. “Obviously not starting the game well and giving up that chance is disappointing, but I think we rebounded well. We’re disappointed with the loss.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.