It was a night for British goal scorers Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Fortunately for the Houston Dynamo, it was their British contingent that did the scoring.
In an interesting turn of events, it was English-born Andrew Driver and London native Giles Barnes that provided the goals in a 2-0 Dynamo win over Stoke City to claim the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup. The damage being done by a pair of England-born players was simply an ironic twist.
“I didn’t realize it until [assistant coach Steve Ralston] came in and said ‘Our British invasion worked out well tonight for us,’” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “Great goal by Andrew on the free kick and obviously Giles was a good powerful run to score the second goal. Little bit ironic but nice to see those guys get a goal tonight.”
The game itself was just a friendly, but Barnes broke a nasty near-three month long scoreless streak with his work to get around the corner of the Stoke defense and score. It will not go in his MLS ledger, but it does break the streak and bring a bit of confidence to a striker in need of seeing the ball hit the back of the net.
It doesn’t hurt as well that the goal exorcises some lingering demons from Barnes’ run-ins with Stoke in his English Premier League days.
“I’ve got good and bad memories because I’ve actually scored quite frequently against Stoke in youth teams and normal games, but I actually tore my Achilles against them. Once at Fulham and once at Derby [County],” Barnes said. “Unfortunately my time in the [Premiership] was cut short due to injuries and stuff but, honestly, it was just nice to get back on the score sheet.”
Driver’s goal came via free kick and was blast of high quality. The Oldham-native curled his 25-yard free kick just inside the near post to give Houston an 11th minute lead.
The classy goals from Houston’s British contingent led a strong Dynamo performance that put them over an EPL team that is still working its way into shape under a new manager. Nevertheless, it’s a performance that will help the team as they move forward in MLS play.
“It was a big game for the club and it was Stoke and it’s nice to score in a game like that,” Driver said. “I think I’d rather score at the weekend when it’s a little more important but it’s a good win and I think we’ll gain more momentum and take it into the weekend.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com