That's how long it's been since the Houston Dynamo last won an Opening Day game, a 5-2 victory in their inaugural game against the Colorado Rapids. The hero then was Brian Ching, who put in a memorable four-goal performance.
Sunday night, the Orange revisited the Home Depot Center -- the same venue where the LA Galaxy beat them for the MLS Cup last November. This time, they bested Chivas USA 1-0 on a stoppage-time goal at the end of regulation by Andre Hainault. The last time the Dynamo won on Opening Day, they won the MLS Cup. Stats don't lie.
Now it's way too early to predict a championship, but Hair Balls can tell you five things we took from Sunday's match.
5. Hainault, goal scorer? For years, head coach Dominic Kinnear has been trying to find the right person to partner alongside Ching up top. It appears the best choice may be Hainault. The Canadian defenseman seems to be on fire as of late. He was instrumental in the Dynamo's run to the MLS Cup with two postseason goals. And in 2012, he was the first Dynamo to get on the scorer's board with his stoppage-time goal. Maybe, just maybe, the Orange's best striker is the redheaded beast of the backline.
4. Defense pitching a shutout Officially, goalkeeper Tally Hall gets the shutout. But the accolades should go to the stout play of the back four. Even though Chivas played with only one striker, they never really tested Hall. He only had to make two saves on the night, which is more of a testament to the defense. The Dynamo kept Chivas striker Juan Pablo Angel for the majority of the match, and rendered their attack useless. The same back four that the Dynamo rode to last season's finale seems poised for a strong 2012.
3. Strikers not yet clicking What isn't clicking is the offense. The Dynamo severely outshot the home team, which has more to say about Chivas's ineptitude to do much of anything. Still, the Dynamo forwards had their opportunities to blow this game wide open, missing one-on-one chances against Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. The Dynamo offense will still go through Brad Davis once again, and they will rely on set pieces for the bulk of their offense. But the forwards have to find the back of the net more often than the defensive players. 2. Important three points With BBVA Compass Stadium not set to open until May 12, the Dynamo play their first seven games on the road. Until then, the more points they can get on the road, the better. And nothing is better than three points after the first week of action. Granted, Chivas USA in MLS is the equivalent of the Astros in MLB, but you can only play what's in front of you. It doesn't get any easier from here.
1. More points needed in Week 2 Next week, the Dynamo go to the Bay Area to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. After that, the schedule gets extremely difficult, with games at Seattle, Chicago, Columbus, DC United and New York. Now the Dynamo are true professionals and they won't be ones to look ahead, and for good reason. The Earthquakes have one of the best goal scorers in Chris Wondolowski, who scored their game-winner against the New England Revolution. But with their tenacious defense, the Dynamo should leave the Golden State with max points ahead of their clash with the Seattle Sounders.
The Dynamo play the Earthquakes on a St. Paddy's Day match at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Kickoff for Saturday's match is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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