One player has played 140 regular season games for the Houston Dynamo, another was making his debut. Both had key roles to play as the Dynamo quelled the Union’s mini-revival with a narrow 2-1 victory Saturday night.
In the end, Brian Ching’s 83rd-minute winner from the penalty spot gave Houston (6-5-5) an important three points while Philadelphia (3-9-2) were unable to follow up their 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City with another impressive result.
Houston plugged new signing Boniek Garcia straight into the starting lineup and the Honduran winger added zest to the Dynamo’s attacking play, especially in the first half. But while the Dynamo had the bulk of the possession and chances, they never looked assured at the back.
GOAL: Ching converts from the spot
Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation following the unexpected 4-2 defeat in Montreal a week earlier. Central defender Geoff Cameron moved up to the middle of the park, while Jermaine Taylor returned from injury and slotted in for Cameron at center back. Sheanon Williams returned to Philadelphia’s back four for coach John Hackworth.
The Dynamo’s new Designated Player was heavily involved as Houston grabbed the lead in the 20th minute. Garcia’s cross from the right found Macoumba Kandji on the edge of the box. The forward slid the ball into the path of the onrushing Brad Davis, who superbly placed the ball into the far corner for his fourth goal of the season.
It was reward for Houston’s control of the first half, though the visitors should have opened the scoring 10 minutes earlier. Making his first start for the Union, Jorge Perlaza was clean through but his low shot zipped wide of Tally Hall’s goal.
Anxious moments at the core of the Dynamo backline saw Hall called into emergency action on a couple of occasions, yet Kinnear’s side might have been two goals to the good at the break. Cameron eluded his marker on a 38th-minute Davis free kick, but sent his header over from six yards.
The home side was pegged back just 36 seconds into the second half. Brian Carroll found Keon Daniel at the top of the box, allowing the Philly midfielder to turn and lash a bouncing drive beyond Hall from 20 yards. The Dynamo goalkeeper seemed to be taken by surprise and barely moved.
Houston was rocked for the next few minutes before regaining composure. Still, the match appeared headed for a draw until Gabriel Farfan’s nudge on Ching sent the Dynamo substitute tumbling to the turf. The referee, Fotis Bazakos, awarded a penalty, and the veteran star took the ensuing penalty kick himself to claim his second goal of the season and his first at BBVA Compass Stadium with just seven minutes remaining.
Neither Houston nor Philadelphia have much time to think about tonight's match. The Dynamo will host the Chicago Fire on July 3, while the Union are away to the LA Galaxy on Independence Day.
Houston Dynamo (6-5-5) vs. Philadelphia Union (3-9-2)
June 30, 2012 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX - Attendance: 19,806
HOU – Brad Davis 4 (Macoumba Kandji, Boniek Garcia) 19
PHI – Keon Daniel 1 (Brian Carroll) 46
HOU — Brian Ching 2 (penalty) 83
Houston Dynamo – Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Luiz Camargo (Warren Creavalle 79), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis; Boniek Garcia, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 74), Macoumba Kandji (Brian Ownby 71)
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Nathan Sturgis, Cam Weaver
Philadelphia Union – Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams (Freddy Adu 84), Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan; Michael Farfan, Brian Caroll, Gabriel Gomez (Michael Lahoud 75), Keon Daniel; Jorge Perlaza (Antoine Hoppenot 64), Lionard Pajoy
Substitutes not used: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Josue Martinez, Roger Torres
Misconduct Summary: None
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant referees: Frank Anderson, George Gansner
4th Official: Jorge Luna Hernandez