Despite a sluggish first half on Wednesday night, Houston held off Puebla in an entertaining battle, both literally and figuratively, to win 1-0 and claim the top spot in SuperLiga Group A. Dynamo forward Dominic Oduro scored the game’s lone goal in the 64th minute.
Anthony Obodai got his first start for Houston since officially being signed by the team and provided a calming influence to the Houston midfield as well as some defensive bite. But with both teams mixing and matching starters, the first half was not very fluid.
In the seventh minute, Puebla had one of the best chances of the half, as Félix González sent a cross that found Isidro Sánchez in front of goal, but Sánchez’s header bounced off the turf and over the cross bar.
Houston’s best chance in the first half came eight minutes from the end off a set piece. Brad Davis sent in a corner, and Puebla keeper Édgar Hernández and Houston defender Adrian Serioux collided, with the ball bouncing harmlessly in the box. Serioux got to it first, but his effort was blocked by Puebla’s defense, and both teams entered the locker room tied at 0-0.
The second half started with a much bigger bang. Puebla narrowly missed jumping ahead, as González sent a ball in from the wing to Edgar Lugo at the penalty spot. Lugo did not strike the ball perfectly, but his shot still beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall before crashing against the right post.
Houston responded again off a set piece, but this time the Dynamo took the lead. Corey Ashe found big man Cam Weaver from a free kick, and Weaver headed the ball down to Oduro. The forward received the ball in front of goal and easily slotted past Hernández from close range to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead.
Houston was reduced to 10 men after receiving his second yellow card in the 77th minute. As a desperate Puebla looked for a tying goal, the game eventually – and inevitably – turned ugly. Obodai fouled Puebla’s Álvaro González near the midfield, and González upkicked Obodai. Serioux, who was nearby, bumped Gónzalez and, a series shoves and slaps ensued, causing the ref to show a slew of yellow and red cards to several players.
By the end of the scuffle, two Puebla players had been ejected, leaving the Mexican club down to nine men against Houston's 10.
Another ejection followed soon after. Oduro was also sent off after receiving a yellow card for diving and then a red card. Oduro argued it was his first yellow card, not his second, but the referee's report indicated Oduro was given a second yellow card on the play for dissent.
With the victory, Houston advanced as the top seed in the group. However, Joseph Ngwenya, Oduro and Cruz will all be suspended from the semifinal showdown with Morelia. Puebla also advance, though they do so in second place, and will face the New England Revolution, also missing three players due to suspension.
Puebla (2-1) vs. Houston Dynamo (2-0-1)
July 21, 2010 -- Robertson Stadium
SuperLiga -- Group A
HOU -- Dominic Oduro 1 (Cam Weaver 1) 64
Puebla -- Edgar Hernandez (Juan Garcia Rulfo 68), Orlando Rincon, Melvin Brown, Alvaro Ortiz, Yasser Corona, Felix Gonzalez (Jose Gonzalez 66), Edgar Lugo, Felipe Ayala, Carlos Rivera (Gabriel Pereyra 69), Juan Garcia (Mario Ortiz 60), Isidro Sanchez (Alvaro Gonzalez 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Pablo Aja, Rodrigo Salinas.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, Ryan Cochrane, Adrian Serioux, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz, Lovel Palmer (Dominic Oduro 62), Anthony Obodai, Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 56), Joseph Ngwenya (Bobby Boswell 79), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney.
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (caution; Reckless Tackle) 11
PUE -- Juan Garcia (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25
HOU -- Joseph Ngwenya (caution; Dissent) 50
PUE -- Melvin Brown (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 52
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Tactical Foul) 74
HOU -- Danny Cruz (ejection; Second Caution) 77
PUE -- Alvaro Gonzalez (ejection; Violent Conduct) 85
PUE -- Melvin Brown (ejection; Violent Conduct) 86
HOU -- Adrian Serioux (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 86
HOU -- Dominic Oduro (caution; Simulation) 90
HOU -- Dominic Oduro (ejection; Second Caution) 90
PUE -- Yasser Corona (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 92+
Referee: Oscar Reyna (GUA)
Referee's Assistants: Gerson Lopez (GUA); Hermenerito Leal (GUA)
4th official: Terry Vaughn
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-86-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial