HoustonDynamo.com will continue to count down the ten best Dynamo games of 2012 through Friday, Dec. 21. 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 #5:
Dynamo 2 : 0 New York Red Bulls
August 3, 2012 - BBVA Compass Stadium
When the Dynamo schedule was released in January, many dates stood out, including May 12 (BBVA Compass Stadium inaugural game), May 26 (2011 MLS Cup Final rematch with LA Galaxy), June 16 (Texas Derby vs. FC Dallas) and July 18 (2011 Eastern Conference Final rematch vs. Sporting Kansas City).
Another highlight was a pair of dates – August 3 and 10 – which represented a rare home-and-home meeting in consecutive games, with the Dynamo and New York Red Bulls facing off on consecutive Friday nights before a national TV audience. Well before the series, many speculated how important the pair of games would be for both clubs.
Even the most hopeful fans couldn’t draw up the actual scenario: Two teams separated by a point at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. That was the case when the New York Red Bulls (38 points) arrived to Houston to face the Dynamo (37 points) in the first Friday night home game at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo were playing their best soccer of the season – 5-0-2 in their previous seven games – coinciding with the debut of Honduran midfielder Boniek Garcia at the start of the unbeaten run. The orange carried the momentum of a three-win homestand to Toronto, where they earned a 2-0 road win on July 28 to extend the win streak to four games, during which they outscored opponents 11-1. They were the hottest team in Major League Soccer and midfielder Brad Davis was in scorching form, with six assists in four games.
New York, despite a 3-1 road defeat at Montreal the previous Saturday, still carried a lot of bravado to Houston. The Red Bulls were in first place, had defeated the Dynamo 1-0 in their only previous meeting on May 9, and were sure to receive a boost from their latest signing, Australian star Tim Cahill, set for his league debut in Houston.
The stage was set for a memorable night and the Dynamo would deliver, dominating the Red Bulls for a 2-0 win in Game No. 5 on our countdown of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012.
Like several games on the Top 10 list, the Dynamo started quickly to secure an early advantage, scoring the opening goal just 73 seconds into the match.
The scoring play began with Davis lofting a free kick into the box, where a New York defender’s headed clearance hit Cahill and fell in front of Macoumba Kandji, who cracked a low shot that required a great save from goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
The early deficit was especially demoralizing to New York, which now had to chase the game in 90-degree heat and Houston humidity, with a sellout crowd backing the Dynamo.
Houston continued to dominate the game through the 28th minute, when it was rewarded with a second goal. Corey Ashe setup Kandji with plenty of space for a clear cross on the left flank, and Kandji’s service was met by Calen Carr, who rose above his marker to head past Gaudette for a 2-0 lead.
A minute before halftime, Kandji nearly made it 3-0 for Houston. Davis played a well-weighted ball through the New York defense and Kandji raced into the box alone, slipped around a sliding Gaudette and fired a shot that was cleared off the line by Roy Miller.
Then, just two minutes after the break, Will Bruin came close to extending the advantage. Davis lofted another pinpoint pass over the Red Bulls defense and Bruin held off his defender before sliding a shot just past the far post.
The chances continued for the Dynamo, as Garcia nearly scored two minutes into stoppage time. He played a short pass to Brian Ching and raced into the box for Ching’s return ball, which he shot into Gaudette as the goalkeeper charged off his line.
The relatively easy win was reflected in Houston’s advantage over New York in offensive numbers: Shots (16-5), shots on goal (8-2), open play crosses (14-9) and passing accuracy (89%-85%).
It was Houston’s fifth consecutive win, matching a club record set in 2007. The eight-game unbeaten run was the longest since the club set a franchise record at 11 in 2009.
Houston’s time atop the Eastern Conference table was short-lived. New York won the rematch, 2-0, a week later at Red Bull Arena. But the home win capped an incredible run for the Dynamo in which they outscored opponents 15-2 and recorded six shutouts in eight games.
The tone was set for a playoff run, and even better memories in the inaugural season at BBVA Compass Stadium.