The Houston Dynamo scored two goals in the opening five minutes, then saw Real Salt Lake come all the way back despite going down a man. But a thunderous goal from Brad Davis gave the Dynamo a 3-2 win at Robertson Stadium.
Brian Ching and Geoff Cameron opened the scoring in the first five minutes, but Kyle Beckerman and Yura Movsisyan leveled the score for RSL as Jamison Olave was sent off in the first half. But Davis -- who set up both previous Dynamo goals -- got the game winner in the 81st minute to give Houston the full three points.
The Dynamo got out to one of the best starts in MLS history, becoming the seventh team in MLS history to score two goals in the first five minutes of a game. Ching scored the opener only 70 seconds into the game, and Cameron got the second in the fifth minute. Both goals came from Davis set pieces that were delivered well into the danger area in front of goal. Ching beat a static Nat Borchers to a free kick from the left that fell into the goal area, diving forward to poke the ball past Salt Lake 'keeper Nick Rimando. Then a Davis corner kick from the right fell right to the feet of Cameron, and he was able to get enough on the ball to put it past Salt Lake 'keeper Nick Rimando.
Real Salt Lake could have easily crumbled after giving up two early goals, but the Dynamo seemed to let off the gas and RSL turned up the intensity, catching Houston sleeping. In the 27th minute, Andy Williams played an impressive backheel into the path of a streaking Beckerman. With one center back marking Williams, Beckerman was free to drive to just inside the box, where he unleashed a low, hard shot past Dynamo 'keeper Pat Onstad to pull Salt Lake within a goal.
In the 31st minute, Salt Lake dug itself a deeper hole. As Davis received a pass from midfield, Olave came in and laid a crunching tackle into Davis from behind. Referee Baldomero Toledo immediately went to his back pocket and RSL went down a man.
However, Real continued to fight back, and they tied the score early in the second half. Second-half substitute Movsisyan received the ball at the top of the box and cut inside to beat Dynamo defender Mike Chabala. Movsisyan ripped his shot, and again Onstad had little chance as the ball sailed inside the left-hand post. Despite facing a man advantage and a two-goal deficit, RSL had leveled the score.
Looking to regain the advantage, the Dynamo started to impose their will on Salt Lake. However, as attack after attack came, they all seemed to be wasted. Stuart Holden missed an effort from inside the six-yard box in the 66th minute. Substitute Cam Weaver laid the ball off perfectly to Davis from only five yards out, but Weaver continued into the play and Davis' effort banged into Weaver. Weaver also had a wide open header at goal, but his effort went right to Rimando.
But the Dynamo finally got the winner in the 81st minute. Cameron tracked down the ball in midfield and threaded it forward to Davis, just outside the left corner of the area. Davis ripped a wicked drive from just outside the box, beating an outstretched Nick Rimando high inside the right-hand post to give the Dynamo a much-needed victory.
The Dynamo finished the game a man down themselves when Brian Ching was sent off in the 82nd minute.
With the win, Houston remains atop the Western Conference with 42 points, while Real are starting to fall off the pace in a bid to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs. RSL face a trip to FC Dallas next weekend, while the Dynamo are off from league play next week, though they take on Arabe Unido on Tuesday in a CONCACAF Champions League match.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
Real Salt Lake (9-10-7) vs. Houston Dynamo (12-8-7)
September 19, 2009 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
HOU -- Brian Ching 8 (Brad Davis 9) 2
HOU -- Geoff Cameron 2 (Brad Davis 10) 5
RSL -- Kyle Beckerman 3 (Andy Williams 4, Pablo Campos 4) 27
RSL -- Yura Movsisyan 7 (Pablo Campos 5) 60
HOU -- Brad Davis 5 (Geoff Cameron 5) 81
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Rachid El Khalifi (Javier Morales 45), Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams (Yura Movsisyan 52), Will Johnson, Pablo Campos (Robbie Findley 61), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Jean Alexandre, Ned Grabavoy, David Horst.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Ryan Cochrane, Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan, Geoff Cameron, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 83), Brian Ching, Luis Angel Landin (Cam Weaver 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Tally Hall, Wade Barrett, Dominic Oduro, Abe Thompson, Craig Waibel.
RSL -- Nat Borchers (caution; Reckless Tackle) 20
RSL -- Jamison Olave (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 32
HOU -- Ryan Cochrane (caution; Reckless Tackle) 46+
RSL -- Robbie Findley (caution; Reckless Foul) 61
RSL -- Will Johnson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70
HOU -- Brian Ching (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 82
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution; Delay of Game) 92+
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Peter Balciunas; Eric Boria
4th official: Mark Kadlecik
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-87-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial