The Houston Dynamo lost their first game of the 2011 preseason, 1-0 to Columbus, and saw captain Brian Ching leave the game with a hamstring injury Friday night in Houston's first game of the 2011 Atlanta Pro Soccer Challenge. With the win, Columbus clinched the round-robin tournament title with a 2-0 record.
Friday's earliest scoring opportunity came in the eighth minute when Columbus forward Jeff Cunningham played a low cross for strike partner Andres Mendoza, but Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall came off his line to smother Mendoza's deflection. Mendoza had another chance in the 19th minute after great Columbus buildup, but he pulled his shot wide.
Columbus created two chances in the 20th minute, first with Hall diving to save a long-range Eddie Gaven shot and then with Chad Marshall heading wide from a Gaven corner. The Crew's pressure paid off in the 22nd minute when Lovel Palmer was whistled for a handball in the penalty area, but Cunningham's low shot was denied by Hall with a spectacular dive to his right.
Dynamo morale took a blow soon after, however, when Ching left the game due to a hamstring injury, replaced by Cam Weaver. Columbus then went in front in the 34th minute when right back Sebastian Miranda played a long ball behind the Houston back line. Mendoza reached the ball first, held onto it through a tackle, and drove a low shot underneath Hall.
Houston's best chance of the first half came in the 38th minute, when Weaver flicked on a long ball and Will Bruin outmuscled Chad Marshall in the penalty area. Bruin fired a shot from a tough angle, but Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer was able to make the save.
Neither team created much offensively in the second half, with the Dynamo employing a slightly makeshift lineup that saw forward Jason Garey and defender Mike Chabala both deployed in midfield. Houston's best chance to tie came in the 85th minute when Francisco Navas Cobo broke into the box on the right side, but he could not connect with Dominic Oduro at the back post.
Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew
March 11, 2011 -- KSU Soccer Stadium, Kennesaw, GA
Atlanta Pro Soccer Challenge
CLB -- Andres Mendoza (Sebastian Miranda) 34
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall (Tyler Deric 46), Kofi Sarkodie (Hunter Freeman 46), Jermaine Taylor (Jordan Graye 60), Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Francisco Navas Cobo 46), Lovel Palmer (Dominic Oduro 60), Geoff Cameron (Alex Dixon 46), Brad Davis (Andrew Hainault 46), Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 28), Will Bruin (Jason Garey 46).
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan, Eddie Gaven (Robbie Rogers 72), Dejan Rusmir (Cole Grossman 60), Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka (Bernardo Anor 84), Jeff Cunningham (Justin Meram 72), Andres Mendoza (Tom Heinemann 66).
HOU -- Kofi Sarkodie (caution) 36
CLB -- Dilly Duka (caution) 48
CLB -- Dejan Rusmir (caution) 58
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, Claudio Badea
4th Official: Mark Cleland
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial