The Houston Dynamo have been terrors late in games in the early part of 2013. In four games in all competitions, the club has notched all five of their goals in the final 15 minutes of matches.
Why are the Dynamo so lethal at the death? Look no further than the quality of their subs bring off the bench.
With the exception of James Riley’s own-goal against D.C. United, Dynamo subs have had a hand in the remaining four of Houston's goals.
Entering 2013, the Dynamo boasted one of the deepest benches in MLS, lead by forward Brian Ching, the club's all-time leading scorer, midfielder Luiz Camargo, who played a key role in the club's 2011 MLS Cup Playoff run and Andrew Driver, who appeared more than 150 times for Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian. Early in the season, that group has shown that it can be effective at raising the energy level and that has translated to production.
“They do their job,” said Brad Davis, who came on as a sub and scored an 89th-minute winner against Santos Laguna on March 5. “We know their mentality and their work rate and those are three good guys to have coming off the bench.”
The production from the Dynamo's bench began in week one. After Riley's own goal put Houston ahead late, second-half sub Warren Creavalle ensured a Dynamo victory when he worked the end line and found Ricardo Clark open in the six-yard box. On Sunday, the Dynamo's substitute triumvirate of Driver, Cam Weaver and Ching all played a hand in Houston's comeback.
Driver’s contribution was easy to pick out as the newcomer opened his account with Houston’s first goal Sunday. Along with the goal, the winger brought energy and was a big lift in Houston’s bid to pull points out of the Texas Derby. On Davis’s goal, Weaver and Ching combined to spark the build-up. The lift was much-needed in a game where the Dynamo were searching for a spark to get things on track after a rough start.
“Their job as a sub is to make the most it and they did a great job of helping us get back into it,” Davis said. “Andrew got his first goal, he came on and tried to make a difference and that’s exactly what happened. That’s what he did and so did Ching and so did Cam.”
Added goalkeeper Tally Hall: “We have options, depending on what the game dictates, and we can adjust to the type of game. The eleven on the field’s always going to be very good and that’s why I think we’re going to be one of the best teams this year.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.