After a helter-skelter first half of the season, the Houston Dynamo opened up the second on a high note, sinking the Seattle Sounders FC 3-1 Saturday night at Robertson Stadium.
Leading the way for the Dynamo was team captain Brian Ching, who finished the night with two goals -- including the game-winner in the 23rd minute. Colin Clark also contributed with the first goal of the night and an assist on the third goal, plus some feisty play in midfield.
With Seattle playing a mid-week game -- a 1-0 loss to Panamanian side San Francisco FC in CONCACAF Champions League -- the Dynamo knew it was important to jump on them early. In the seventh minute, Geoff Cameron swung a cross in the penalty box, where Ching was there to chest the ball the down. After it got away from him, Clark came racing in to put in the close-range shot to give the Dynamo the 1-0 lead.
In the 23rd minute, Geoff Cameron again swung a cross inside the box. Again the target was Ching, although this time he got his head on the end of the ball and put it behind the net for the 2-0 Dynamo lead.
"Classic goal from me, inside the six," Ching said. "Just where I like 'em."
After the Sounders got a goal back via the penalty, the Dynamo went on the attack. In the 71st minute, after an Adam Moffat shot from distance was blocked, Hunter Freeman passed it back toward the endline for Clark. He then squared up and passed it across the endline, where Ching easily put it away.
After the match, Ching talked about how the team came out strong and with confidence, but most importantly how they "had fun."
"When you're losing, it's hard to find the game at times. Tonight, it looked like everyone was on top of things."
Another bright spot for the Dynamo was newly acquired midfielder Moffat, who didn't shy from shooting from distance. He finished the game with four shots; two of them required great saves from Seattle keeper Kasey Keller. The ability to get great shots from distance was something the Dynamo have missed since the departure of Ricardo Clark, and it helped to draw the defense out a bit.
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"We asked him that after the game, 'You like to shoot, don't ya?' But he kept on hitting the target, and he obviously has confidence in his ability to shoot from distance," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said after the match. "So if he keeps shooting like that, we definitely encourage him to do it."
The win gives the Dynamo 27 points on the season, and has them on the edge of the playoff chase. With the need to make a second-half push, the Dynamo know now is the time to string together a couple of complete games like the one they played against the Sounders.
"It's crunch time; it's time to get some points at home and to start moving up the charts if we wanna be in the playoffs," Ching told Hair Balls. "We all have pride, and we all want to be in the playoffs, and we don't want a repeat of what happened last year. We take it upon ourselves to come out and perform, and tonight is a good start. Let's not read too much into this game, it's one game; we need to put three or four more like these together and get some wins before we can pat ourselves on the back."
The Dynamo have a chance to gain ground on one of the top-tier teams in the Eastern Conference next weekend when they travel to Philly to take on the Union. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, August 6, at 7:00 p.m.