In a battle of teams just outside the playoff picture, the Houston Dynamo made two first-half goals stand in a 2-1 home win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday night at Robertson Stadium to move into playoff position.
After quelling early pressure from the visiting Timbers, who tested the Dynamo goal three times in the first seven minutes, the Dynamo took control 17 minutes in on a sterling strike from former Timber Adam Moffat.
Moffat — who came to Houston from Portland in a July 21 trade for Mike Chabala and Lovel Palmer — found the ball at his feet 38 yards away from goal after a Bobby Boswell attempt off a corner was blocked. Moffat wasted no time and hit a screamer that beat Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins to the top right corner to give Houston a one-goal lead.
Houston continued to pressure Portland, controlling the possession and testing Perkins for the rest of the first half. Brian Ching added another Dynamo goal in the 27th minute when he slotted a shot past a diving Perkins for what would be the winning goal. Brad Davis — who was credited with an assist to return to the top of the MLS leaderboard with 11 on the season — took little time off an attacking throw-in to find Colin Clark, who nutmegged Palmer to set up Ching in the six-yard box. The veteran forward hit a professional finish by Perkins to double the Dynamo's lead.
Portland came out of the halftime break with the same energy the Timbers showed at the start of the match. Sal Zizzo started the pressure in the 50th minute, making a weaving run through the Dynamo defense and hitting an angled shot that Tally Hall stopped.
Portland pulled within one in the 56th minute when Zizzo — who was dangerous all night — found Darlington Nagbe with a cross at the back post. The rookie set up Jack Jewsbury with a header, and the Timbers captain hit a hard strike that caught a piece of Houston defender Andre Hainault before heading into the net.
Portland continued to attack, pushing the ball into Houston’s defensive third, but the Timbers could not find the equalizer despite two chances in the final 10 minutes from Kenny Cooper.
The night was not all about goals, however. Portland saw forward Eddie Johnson carted off the field late in the first half. After a collision at midfield, Johnson — who was listed on Friday’s injury report as out with a concussion — received attention on the field before being transported to a local hospital for observation.
With the win, Houston improves to 31 points on the season and will travel to New England to face the Revolution on Wednesday. Portland, meanwhile, stays on 26 points and will play at Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night. Both teams began a stretch of playing three games in seven days.
Portland Timbers (7-11-5) vs. Houston Dynamo (7-7-10)
August 14, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
HOU -- Adam Moffat 1 (unassisted) 17
HOU -- Brian Ching 4 (Colin Clark 3, Brad Davis 11) 27
POR -- Jack Jewsbury 7 (Darlington Nagbe 2, Sal Zizzo 3) 56
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, David Horst, Mike Chabala, Sal Zizzo, Diego Chara (James Marcelin 46), Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 73), Kenny Cooper, Eddie Johnson (Jorge Perlaza 39).
Substitutes Not Used: Mamadou Danso, Brian Umony, Rodney Wallace, Adin Brown.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Je-Vaughn Watson 69), Geoff Cameron, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis (Jermaine Taylor 80), Brian Ching, Carlo Costly (Cam Weaver 56).
Substitutes Not Used: Jason Garey, Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Tyler Deric.
HOU -- Adam Moffat (caution; Reckless Tackle) 9
POR -- Lovel Palmer (caution; Reckless Tackle) 54
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Juan Guzman
Weather: Cloudy-and-92 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial