HOUSTON – It wasn’t a masterpiece but the Owen Coyle era got off on the right foot as fellow Brit Giles Barnes’ second half goal gave the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win over the tough luck Columbus Crew SC.
Houston’s winner came from the type of play Coyle and company is hoping to see this season. Minutes after changing his jersey due to his head bleeding from a first half knock of heads; Kofi Sarkodie put some fancy foot work cutting past Waylon Francis down the right to set up Barnes. The 26-year-old Englishman was cutting across the box and swiveled to meet the ball lashed it high into the goal to give Houston a 1-0 66th minute lead.
The goal was one of the few attacking highlights on a night where Houston was defending much more than they likely planned too. Columbus was the aggressor, especially in the second half where they managed 16 shots and seemingly hit everything but the back of the net.
Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who is taking over for the departed Tally Hall as the Dynamo’s full-time No. 1, put his shot-stopping ability on display twice early in the second half to keep the game scoreless. In the 53rd minute former Dynamo Kei Kamara looked to have headed home the game’s first goal but Deric was quick to stretch out to his left and push the first dangerous shot of the night wide keeping the game scoreless.
Crew SC, who came out swinging in the second half and controlled the run of play, put Houston on their heels in the second half peppering the Dynamo goal. Kristinn Steindorsson forced another big save out of Deric in the 64th minute one-timing a right foot shot low. The first-year starter again went to his left to stop the shot and keep Houston in the game.
Deric’s work proved big as Sarkodie and Barnes linked up two minutes later to give Houston the edge.
If it wasn’t Deric diving to his left it was the crossbar that was cruel to the Crew SC's Federico Higuain. The Argentine playmaker crushed an attempt from just inside the box but instead of splashing the net it found woodwork. The follow-up from Tony Tchani was right to Deric and the score stayed in Houston’s favor.
DaMarcus Beasley flashed his speed in the 81st minute blazing down the left flank but his shot was high over Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Deric would make it a hat trick of top plays in the 84th minute first beating Kamara to a free kick and then outhustling him to punch the loose ball clear from in front of his goal. The Sierra Leone international had a clear look in the 90th minute but his header, like the others, was off.
All the second half action came after a dreary first half. Six combined shots marked a dull first half. Neither team was able to string passes together and a pair of active defenses was more than happy to cut out bad passes.
Houston will host expansion Orlando City SC Friday while Crew SC hosts Toronto FC the day after.
Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC
MLS regular season
March 7, 2015 — BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Attendance: 22,351 (sellout)
Houston: Giles Barnes 1 (Kofi Sarkodie 1) 66
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, Raúl Rodríguez (David Horst 90+3), Jermaine Taylor, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek García, Ricardo Clark, Luis Garrido, Brad Davis ©; Giles Barnes (Chandler Hoffman 90+1), Will Bruin (Leonel Miranda 57)
Columbus Crew SC: Steve Clark; Hernán Grana, Michael Parkhurst ©, Emanuel Pogatetz, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani (Aaron Schoenfeld 80), Wil Trapp, Kristinn Steindórsson (Ben Speas 80); Federico Higuain (Héctor Jiménez 75), Kei Kamara
CLB: Emaunel Pogatetz (caution) 28
CLB: Tony Tchani (caution) 78
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Jeff Muschik, Jeremy Hanson
Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi