Will Bruin made his home return to MLS play in style, scoring the winning goal in the 79th minute of a crucial 2-1 victory for the Houston Dynamo over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Bruin – who had not scored since his hat trick on April 29 against D.C. United and missed considerable time over the past two months following knee surgery – found his form in front of net with a clinical left-footed winner to break a 1-1 tie. The chance was the result of a deft pass from newcomer Luiz Camargo, who found space on the right flank after a Danny Cruz flick to put in a cross that helped give Houston the win.
The win improves Houston’s point total to 39 — two behind Eastern Conference leaders Columbus — and keeps playoff hopes strong. Next Saturday, the Dynamo travel to Pizza Hut Park for a match against in-state rival FC Dallas. The loss delivers a tough blow to San Jose’s playoff chances, keeping the Earthquakes on 29 points ahead of a road game against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.
Until the late goal, it seemed that neither team was poised to find a late winner in a match that saw few real chances.
The Quakes got on the board before halftime when Jamaican international Khari Stephenson volleyed a Steve Beitashour cross past Tally Hall in the 40th minute. Joey Gjertsen ignited the attack, catching Houston left back Corey Ashe tucked in before putting Beitashour into space. The right back sent a purposeful ball in, and Stephenson hit a stiff volley past Hall for the goal.
San Jose nursed the lead into halftime, and though the Dynamo controlled the run of play for much of the night, they failed to produce much magic in the final third.
But the hosts knotted score just out of the halftime break when Brad Davis made a skilled dribbling move into the box, cutting to his right and drawing a trip from San Jose defender Bobby Burling for a PK call. Davis stepped up to the spot and hit a hard shot to the right-hand side of the net, beating San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch to tie the game in the 47th minute.
With Bruin’s goal putting Houston up late, the Earthquakes committed more numbers forward in the final 10-plus minutes. The adjustment did not pay off though, and neither team tested the other’s goalkeeper down the stretch, leaving the Dynamo to see the victory out.
San Jose Earthquakes (6-11-11) vs. Houston Dynamo (9-9-12)
September 17, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
SJ -- Khari Stephenson 4 (Steven Beitashour 5, Joey Gjertsen 3) 40
HOU -- Brad Davis 4 (penalty kick) 47
HOU -- Will Bruin 5 (Luiz Camargo 1, Danny Cruz 3) 79
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Nana Attakora, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales, Joey Gjertsen (Jacob Peterson 63), Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin (Maxwell Griffin 82), Simon Dawkins (Matt Luzunaris 83), Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Convey, Chris Leitch, Brad Ring, David Bingham.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Danny Cruz 59), Luiz Camargo, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis, Calen Carr (Will Bruin 74), Carlo Costly (Cam Weaver 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Hunter Freeman, Jermaine Taylor, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tyler Deric.
HOU -- Brad Davis (caution; Simulation) 18
HOU -- Adam Moffat (caution; Reckless Foul) 61
SJ -- Nana Attakora (caution; Reckless Tackle) 64
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Belleau; Eric Proctor
4th Official: Armando Villarreal