For the next six business days, HoustonDynamo.com will continue to count down the ten best Dynamo games of 2012. With so many great games to choose from, it was difficult to settle on ten, and tougher still to decide how to rank them. We will unveil one game per day, with a look back at what made the game special and include game highlights. Here is #7:
Dynamo 3 : 0 Montreal Impact
July 21, 2012 - BBVA Compass Stadium
In some ways, it was a make-or-break week for the Houston Dynamo. When the orange opened a three-game homestand against D.C. United on July 15, they were sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and were set to face two teams above them in the Eastern Conference standings, and a third, the Impact, that was lurking in sixth place.
The Dynamo were also carrying the bittersweet feeling of two consecutive 0-0 draws into the vital homestand. While the team was playing well defensively, being held scoreless for 180 minutes leaves questions about the offensive end of the field.
Despite the form, the Dynamo marketing department made a bold proclamation for the homestand: “3 Games, 7 days, 9 points”. The goal was clear – win all three home games – against the elite teams in the conference, and give the fans a week to remember.
The team responded with a week to savor by taking care of business on the pitch. First up was D.C. United, and Houston took advantage of a red card to D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid with a 4-0 thrashing for its biggest league win of the season.
Sporting Kansas City arrived in first place three days later and left town with a 2-1 defeat in what was its last road loss of the regular season (before falling to the Dynamo on the road again in the playoffs).
The nine-point goal set before the homestand now seemed attainable with the Montreal Impact visiting Houston for their first visit to south Texas. Despite Montreal’s short history in the league – it joined MLS nine months prior – there was already bad blood between the clubs.
It began with the Expansion Draft, in which Brian Ching was left unprotected by the Dynamo and was picked by the Impact – with the first overall selection – despite Ching’s warnings that he would retire before playing for a team outside of Houston. Ching was traded back to the Dynamo during preseason but the feelings between the clubs were rekindled on June 23 when they met for the first time in league play.
Montreal beat Houston, 4-2, at Stade Saputo, with Adam Moffat receiving a red card for a challenge on Felipe. It was the most goals allowed by Houston all season and the bad feelings from the game lingered until the rematch on July 21.
The game - No. 7 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012 – was the crowning moment for a perfect 3-0 homestand in which the Dynamo outscored opponents 9-1. It was also a worthy rebuttal after the 4-2 loss a month earlier.
The rematch nearly began with a disastrous start for Houston. In just the second minute, Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio swung in a corner kick and Lamar Neagle flicked a header off the far post. The Dynamo were nearly behind after only 100 seconds.
Just five minutes later, Houston made the Impact pay. Calen Carr did well to control the ball near the corner flag before beating two defenders with a pass into the feet of Will Bruin, streaking toward the end line. Bruin played the ball across the six-yard box to Macoumba Kandji, who after having his first shot blocked by a defender, slipped the rebound into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Impact nearly evened the score in the 58th minute. After a set piece was cleared, the ball was circulated wide to Sanna Nyassi, who lofted a cross into the center of the penalty area. Hassoun Camara was alone at the top of the six-yard box, but volleyed the cross well wide from just eight yards in front of the goal.
The Dynamo nearly doubled their lead six minutes later before a saving clearance from Impact defender Shavar Thomas. Hainault started the sequence with a long ball from his own half over the top of the Impact defense. With Kandji closing in alone on goal, Donovan Ricketts came out of his box, but Kandji headed the ball past. Before Kandji could tap the ball into an empty net, Thomas made a saving tackle inside the six-yard box to keep the score 1-0.
The game remained 1-0 when Tally Hall produced a vital save on Nyassi in the 78th minute. The Impact forward received a pass on the left side of the area and took a low shot from close range that Hall saved with his legs to maintain the advantage.
Houston would lengthen its lead in the 84th minute, as Bobby Boswell headed a Davis corner kick into the side of the net for a 2-0 advantage. It was a big moment for Boswell, who wore the captain’s armband for the night with Davis and Brian Ching on the bench to begin the game. Additionally, Boswell felt the Dynamo owed the Impact something after their trip to Montreal.
“There wasn’t a game I wanted to win more this year than that one tonight, and I’m really happy our guys felt the same way and took care of business,” Boswell said after the 3-0 win. “For the people who believe in karma, you say we went up there and didn’t get treated well and wanted to make sure we didn’t treat them well when they came down here. I think 3-0 is a good way to send them home.”
Kandji capped the three-game home party with a long run and deserved goal. He received a short pass from Davis at midfield and raced pass three defenders, carrying the ball all the way to the penalty area before slotting his shot past Ricketts for a 3-0 win.
Houston would carry its momentum to Toronto a week later, where it earned a 2-0 win, before returning home for a 2-0 victory over New York that vaulted it to first place. Quite a turnaround for a club that was in fifth place just 19 days earlier.
Return to HoustonDynamo.com on Friday for Game #6 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012.