If you had only watched last night's Dynamo match, you would have thought Will Bruin and Calen Carr had been playing off each other for years. In fact, the sophomore striker (Bruin) and seventh-year veteran (Carr) were playing in only their first game together as the forwards in Dominic Kinnear's 4-4-2 formation. That partnership paid dividends, however, as the two players combined for two goals and an assist in Houston's 2-1 knockout round win over the Chicago Fire.
"I think we did a good job of complementing each other tonight," Carr told reporters after the match. "We knew we wanted to come in and try to make them have to worry where we were and where we were popping up. We were also able to press them too and get into some good spots."
Although the first goal was assisted by Brad Davis, it was a Carr run behind right back Jalil Anibaba that set up the corner kick that Bruin headed home to put Houston ahead. In the second half, Carr picked up the loose ball and found Bruin for the eventual game winner.
“We are starting to gel," Bruin said of the partnership with Carr. "At training this week we were clicking and starting to figure each other out. I think people could tell tonight we were playing off each other, we were talking, we were making runs and it worked out.”
With a two-goal lead, and the game opening up, Carr and Bruin found more space to work with in the second half. If not for a strong second-half performance from goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Wednesday's match could have been out of reach before Alex's 83rd minute goal gave Chicago some life.
"[Will Bruin] and Calen [Carr] had some good plays tonight," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "They ran well off each other.
"For Will, twelve goals [in the season] and then two goals to start the playoffs is good for him," Kinnear added. "I think hitting the target was good for him tonight. The first one gave him a ton of confidence. The second goal kind of fell into his lap and he had to take it well and he did.”
With a formidable Sporting Kansas City defense on the horizon (fewest goals allowed in 2012), the Dynamo's new strike partnership will need to continue to grow if the club hopes to continue playing beyond next Wednesday.
“It’s always a battle when we play them," Bruin said of Sporting. "It’s turned into a pretty fun rivalry. I’m sure they are going to be out for revenge but we want to keep going so we’re going to keep battling.”