After the prestige of victory over Stoke City, now the Dynamo return to the quest for points.
Houston are back in MLS action on Saturday aiming to carry on the good work after Wednesday night's win over the English Premier League club in the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup. The 2-0 success was the Dynamo's third victory in a row, following wins over the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution.
Next up: the Chicago Fire, who visit BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS) in a clash of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls. Winger Andrew Driver hopes that beating Stoke will boost the team's confidence ahead of the Fire match. "It's a good win, it'll bring a little bit more momentum to take into the weekend," he said.
There were plenty of positives to take from the Charities Cup, which the Dynamo had not lifted since 2010. Houston's two goalscorers produced excellent strikes and found the net for the first time since May, captain Brad Davis returned from injury as a second-half substitute and promising young players logged valuable minutes in front of 14,123 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium for the club's annual fundraising match.
Both sides carved out promising opportunities in the first half and the Dynamo controlled the match in the second period as each team made extensive substitutions. Former Dynamo star Geoff Cameron played 89 minutes for the Potters at right back and center back on his return to Houston.
"It was entertaining, I think the heat got to both teams a little bit, slowed the game down a little bit, but we created some real good chances in the first half," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. "I thought we defended well and took advantage of our opportunities."
Both Dynamo goals were scored by players born in England. Andrew Driver's curling free kick from 25 yards out gave the home side an 11th-minute lead and substitute Giles Barnes wrapped up the victory with a dribble and finish from a tight angle two minutes before the end.
"A little bit ironic that Giles and Andrew were the two guys that scored the goals. I didn't really realize that until [assistant coach Steve Ralston] came in and said 'our British invasion has worked out well tonight!'," Kinnear said. "Great goal by Andrew on the free kick and obviously Giles was a good powerful run to get the second goal."
Kinnear praised the contributions of youngsters Tyler Deric, Jason Johnson and Alex Dixon, who all started. Driver knows how useful exhibition games can be to a player's development. " When I was a young guy growing up, friendlies are games where you can get substantial playing time and really try and impress. I know in my career it helped me along in the way to getting more game time," he said.
Kinnear said the outcome "shows you we have a good team. Obviously they're at the beginning stages of their preseason and there was massive substitutions going on but I thought our team coming out of the locker-room in the first half was very good and I think it helped having a big guy like Cam Weaver that worked very hard to hold the ball up".
This was Stoke's first match of their U.S. tour and they move on to face FC Dallas and the Union. New manager Mark Hughes enjoyed his time in south-east Texas. "I thought the Dynamo played very well, had real desire to win the game, probably had a little bit more focus on that than possibly we did, while we were looking at things and changing things around," he said.
"[The Dynamo's] attitude to the game was good, they had good pace, played the counter-attack, the goals for them obviously helped them in terms of being able to sit back and wait for our mistakes and break quickly. They had good pace in forward areas and that allowed them to cause problems to us. Overall it's been a really good experience, we've enjoyed coming here."
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian and SI.com.