Another home game for the Houston Dynamo means another win. It's starting to become cliché as the Orange upped their undefeated home streak to 33 matches in all competitions, just one shy of Real Salt Lake's 34-game record back in 2009-2011.
This 2-1 victory over the previously unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps may have been the most impressive of the 33. With key players absent because of international call-ups, the Dynamo were able to fill in the holes and show their depth.
Here's 5 things we took away from Saturday's win at BBVA Compass Stadium.
5. International absences, no problem The Dynamo didn't need Brad Davis to beat one of the hottest teams in MLS; he's currently with the US Men's National Team as they prepare for a CONCACAF showdown with Mexico at the famed Azteca Stadium.
They didn't even need Boniek Garcia, who's away with Honduras (they currently sit atop the table with 4 points in the final hexagonal round of World Cup Qualifying).
Lets also add Jermaine Taylor to the list of notable absentees, who's with Jamaica.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear wanted to test his team's moxie and give new players opportunities to step in and contribute. "They're not filling in, they're playing," Kinnear explained after the match.
"They're not here to replace somebody; they're here to keep us winning."
4. And of the replacements - err starters... Two of the Dynamo's offseason acquisitions paid dividends for the Orange on Saturday night. The Dynamo traded for Eric Brunner days after the MLS Cup loss in November, and he slotted into central defense just fine. The Dynamo also picked up Andrew Driver from Hearts of the Scottish Premier League just before the start of the season. He tore up the left side of the midfield, causing fits all night long for Vancouver.
Then there's Warren Creavalle, filling in for Garcia. He kept the same pressure that Garcia would have applied, attacking the defense with precise passing. He also tracked back on defense when necessary, then helped in starting the attack from the back. Then there's his game-winning goal. In the 62nd minute, Vancouver failed to clear a corner kick, and Creavalle being at the right place at the right time tapped the ball in for 2-1 score. 3. Perfect time for a pair of first MLS goals Creavalle's game-winning goal was also his first-ever goal in MLS. And yet, he wasn't the only Dynamo that got his first tally.
In the 55th minute, Ricardo Clark was able to whip in a quick cross inside the 18. Giles Barnes was able to rise up above the defense to head home his first MLS goal.
Barnes spoke of his lucky charm he had imported from his native England.
"My best friend came over England, so that's his first experience of MLS football," Barnes told Hair Balls. "So I think I might invite him more often."
2. Credit to Vancouver During the Dynamo's 33-game unbeaten run, many a team's made the decision to sit back and defend; hoping to catch the Orange in a quick counterattack. The Whitecaps chose the opposite.
The Whitecaps came into BBVA knowing they had a couple of things going for them. They knew the Orange were without their two main attacking stars in Davis and Garcia. They also knew they didn't have to battle the heat. Conditions were perfect for good attacking soccer.
The final game stats have the match pretty even in most categories, including possession and shots on target. Of course, the only statistic that matters is the final score line: advantage Dynamo.
1. One more match to tie the record The Dynamo will get their opportunity to tie Real Salt Lake's 34-game unbeaten streak next week. And their foe for match is none other than the San Jose Earthquakes.
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