The Houston Dynamo wrapped up their 2014 preseason campaign with a 2-0 win over the Charleston Battery of USL Pro in the final game of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium.
As the final tune-up before the MLS regular season opener against the New England Revolution on March 8, two of the primary objectives of the evening were to give starters their longest runout before the real games start, and to come out of the game unscathed and injury-free. The former was accomplished, as the majority of the starting eleven went at least 80 minutes, if not the full 90.
The team wasn’t as fortunate in the second aspect. Will Bruin needed to be looked at just six minutes in after a collision with the Charleston goalkeeper, but he recovered and was able to go 84 minutes. Eric Brunner had to be subbed out in the 41st minute after an apparent ankle injury, and Andrew Driver left prematurely in the 50th minute. The health of the squad will be monitored closely as they prepare for opening night.
The game opened slowly, with few chances for either side. The Dynamo controlled the match, but were unable to find the final ball to test the Battery goal. Corey Ashe nearly ended the first half with a bang as he found space in the middle of the field and ripped a shot from 40 yards out, only to have it clang off the upper corner of the goal frame.
The Dynamo finally got onto the board in the 53rd minute thanks to Tony Cascio’s fifth goal of the preseason. The move worked from Ashe’s run down the left side, then through Alex López and Ricardo Clark, who played Cascio through on the right side of the box for a low finish.
Giles Barnes doubled the lead ten minutes later with a chested ball into the net. Will Bruin delivered a tantalizing cross from the right side that Eric Shannon came off his line for, but the ball eluded the Charleston goalkeeper and Barnes redirected it simply into the empty net. The goal was also the fifth of the preseason for Barnes, who tied with Cascio for the preseason team lead.
Charleston cycled through their roster in the second half, but eventually found opportunities to test Tally Hall from distance. A couple of attempts came close to challenging Hall, who had to tip a looping ball over the bar at one point, but overall the Dynamo defense snuffed out most attacks to keep the shutout.
The Dynamo conclude preseason with a 7-3-1 record, and will face the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 8 at 7:30 p.m. CT (TICKETS) to start their 2014 MLS campaign.
Houston Dynamo vs. Charleston Battery
March 1, 2014—Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston, S.C.
Carolina Challenge Cup
HOU: Tony Cascio 5 (Ricardo Clark, Alexander López 2) 53
HOU: GIles Barnes 5 (Will Bruin 2, Tony Cascio 4) 63
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst (Anthony Arena 84), Eric Brunner (AJ Cochran 41), Corey Ashe; Andrew Driver (Alexander López 50), Brad Davis (Jason Johnson 84), Ricardo Clark (Mike Chabala* 86), Tony Cascio (Brian Ownby 84); Giles Barnes (Omar Cummings 79), Will Bruin (Mark Sherrod 84)
Charleston Battery: Andy Ramos (Eric Shannon 46); Taylor Mueller (Marlin Ramirez 61), Colin Falvey, Shawn Ferguson (Jackson Farmer 46), John Wilson (Drew Ruggles 74); Amadou Sanyang (Maikel Chang 71), Quinton Griffith, Austin Savage (Justin Portillo 61), Jarad van Schaik (Miguel Teos 74), Zach Prince (Dante Marini 63); Dane Kelly (Keviel Cordovesi 54)