Will Bruin’s picking up his game and the Houston Dynamo benefitted from it Friday night.
The club’s leading scorer tallied in the 51st minute to spark a 2-0 win over the fifth place Philadelphia Union at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Bruin continued his good run of form after Brad Davis released Giles Barnes, who a minute earlier could not convert on a Bruin layoff, down the left flank. With the nearest defender 10 yards away, Barnes sent a low ball across oncoming Union goalkeeper Andre Blake to tee Bruin up. He beat Carlos Valdes to the ball and poked it home for the 1-0 lead and his team leading ninth of the season.
Bruin's substitute, Omar Cummings, hit a pass in the dying minutes of the match to an unsuspecting Raymon Gaddis, who directed the ball past his teammate Blake for an own goal, to put the final nail in the Union’s coffin.
The win pushes Houston’s (7-12-4) point total to 25, just two behind the Union (6-9-9) who remain in the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 27.
Both teams struggled to get going. The energy was there but the game did not have many clear chances in the first half hour. Against a Union team that went 120 minutes in a US Open Cup win over FC Dallas Tuesday, the Dynamo claimed 60 percent of the possession but couldn’t capitalize in the first 45 minutes.
Things started to turn in the 31st minute when the Dynamo got some good team play going. Four players pinged the ball around the final third to set up a shot from the top of the box from Ricardo Clark, which Blake, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft making his league debut, dived to stop.
Immediately following that, Sebastien Le Toux broke through the Dynamo defense on a counterattack but his shot from the top of the box was right at Dynamo 'keeper Tally Hall.
Le Toux then missed a golden opportunity in the 36th minute from six yards away. Danny Cruz hit a deflected cross off Kofi Sarkodie but the Frenchman couldn’t time it right.
After Bruin’s goal the Dynamo looked to pour it on a tired Union and he came close to adding a second.
Off a well hit cross to the back post, Bruin broke away from Valdes again and powered a header on frame in the 62nd minute, but Blake was there to make another athletic stop to keep the score 1-0. Blake’s stop on Bruin was one of seven big saves he made to keep his club in the game.
Despite some tired legs Pedro Ribeiro, another rookie making his MLS debut, tried twice to give the Union life with two shots inside the box in the 82nd minute. His first was pushed away by Hall and his second was stuffed immediately by David Horst.
Houston will travel to face the Columbus Crew August 23rd as the Union return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes the following day.
Houston Dynamo (7-12-4; 25 points) vs. Philadelphia Union (6-9-9; 27 points)
MLS regular season
August 15, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
Houston: Will Bruin 9 (Giles Barnes 5, Brad Davis 6) 51
Houston: Raymon Gaddis (own goal) 90
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek Garcia (Brian Ownby 90), Luis Garrido, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis (Andrew Driver 76); Giles Barnes, Will Bruin (Omar Cummings 87)
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Corey Ashe, Servando Carrasco, Eric Brunner
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake, Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Maurice Edu, Fabinho; Brian Carroll; Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 61), Amobi Okugo, Vincent Nogueira (Fred 72), Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 76); Pedro Ribeiro
Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams, Michael Lahoud
HOU: David Horst (caution) 28
PHI: Danny Cruz (caution) 45+1
HOU: DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 58
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Kermit Quisenberry
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel