It was a turn back the clock night at the Estadio Cuscatlan for the Houston Dynamo, who notched a 3-1 win over C.D. FAS in their 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League opener in San Salvador.
Trotting out the 4-4-2 for the first time since June, head coach Dominic Kinnear got exactly as he wanted as his team thumped home three headers to tie C.D. Olimpia – who have a 3-0 win over FAS already in the books - atop their group
The first two goals were crossing and finishing 101 as the Dynamo, who started just two players who started Sunday's draw vs. Columbus - Bobby Boswell and Adam Moffat - exploited space on the flanks to serve balls up to towering center forwards Brian Ching and Cam Weaver.
It was Ching who got on the board first, heading home in the 12th minute after some nifty combination play on the left side. Interplay between Je-Vaughn Watson, Colin Clark and Warren Creavalle gave Clark plenty of time to chip to an unmarked Ching, and the Dynamo captain parked it in the net for his sixth continental tally.
After some back and forth play, Weaver doubled Houston’s lead in the 19th minute, this time on service coming from the opposite side. Watson was once again involved, springing right back Kofi Sarkodie to cross unimpeded for a waiting Weaver. FAS goalkeeper Luis Contreras had no chance as his team went 2-0 down.
While Houston had the better of the play FAS did not sit by idly and allow the visitors to nurse their lead.
Led by Alexander Larin, an exciting 20-year-old left midfielder, FAS pushed the game and took their chances. In the first half, the hosts took eight shots. But the difference between the teams was finishing as seven of those shots never came close to testing Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric.
FAS came out with life in the second half, once again led by Larin. Within the first 12 minutes he had two well-taken chances, the first from 25 yards which was smothered by a diving Deric and the second flashing just wide of the far post.
But it was Houston who got the third goal of the game, this time with Watson – again unmarked – heading home a Nathan Sturgis corner from six yards out.
FAS were able to pull one back thanks to an immediate spark from their league-leading goal scorer Jonathan Aguila. The second-half sub took advantage of a failed clearance by the Dynamo and converted on a back-to-goal flick to make it 3-1.
Despitean onslaught of FAS pressure down the stretch - they finished with 22 shots - the home side was unable to tally again.
Houston return to MLS play Saturday when they host Toronto FC, then travel to Honduras to take on group co-leaders CD Olimpia August 30.
C.D. FAS (0-2-0) vs. Houston Dynamo (1-0-0)
August 22, 2012 Estadio Cuscatlan, San Salvador, El Salvador
CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage
HOU: Brian Ching 1 (Colin Clark 1) 12
HOU: Cam Weaver 1 (Kofi Sarkodie 1) 19
HOU: Je-Vaughn Watson 1 (Nate Sturgis) 60
FAS: Jonathan Aguila 1 (unassisted) 64
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Nate Sturgis, Warren Creavalle (Brian Ownby 70); Je-Vaughn Watson, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Brad Davis 81), Colin Clark (Josue Soto 86); Brian Ching, Cam Weaver
Substitutes not used: Tally Hall, Ricardo Clark, Macoumba Kandji, Will Bruin
FAS: Luis Contreras; Jose Granadino, Carlos Carrillo, Alexander Mendoza, Juan Carlos Moscoso; Emerson Reis (Edwin Sanchez 75), Alexander Larin, Cristiam Alvarez (Williams Reyes 85), Elder Figueroa; Ricardo Ulloa, Alejandro de la Cruz (Jonathan Aguila 64)
Substitues not used: Oscar Arroyo, Jorge Moran, Ramon Flores, Dony Valle
FAS: Carlos Carrillo (caution) 44
HOU: Warren Creavalle (caution) 50
HOU: Adam Moffat (caution) 75
HOU: Tyler Deric (time wasting) 84
Referee: Marcos Brea
Referee's Assistants: Hiran Dopico, Jose Rodrigues
4th Official: David Rubalcaba