With a goal and an assist, Geovanni is finally producing in MLS.Sunday night’s fixture between the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes was a huge one for both sides. San Jose needed points to stay in the eighth and final playoff spot and Houston knew they needed three points to stay in the playoff race.
Despite a solid performance from the Dynamo -- they were the better side for the majority of the 90 minutes -- the quality of San Jose’s new Designated Player Geovanni was just too much for them in the end, as San Jose converted what few chances they had and the Dynamo squandered multiple quality opportunities.
San Jose created the match’s first big opportunity on a long punt from goalkeeper Jon Busch. His drop kick went over the top of the Houston defense and into the path of a surprisingly onside Cornell Glen, but Glen managed to squander the opportunity with a poor shot. Just two minutes later, Brad Davis found himself in space and turned into a 25-yard shot, but his effort was less powerful than he would have liked and Busch gathered it easily.
Only one minute later, San Jose found their breakthrough and took the lead. Geovanni picked up the ball almost 50 yards from goal and took off down the left flank. He beat his defender for pace and put a ball across the box from the byline, finding Khari Stephenson, who hit a quality finish to put San Jose up 1-0.
Later, starting in the 10th minute, there were a flurry of opportunities that could have used better finishes. Dominic Oduro carved out some space in the box, but he sent his shot well over the crossbar. In the 12th minute, Brad Davis sent a corner kick into the box that Eddie Robinson headed over the bar. Three minutes later, Chris Wondolowski had a shot comfortably saved by Pat Onstad.
The match then went fairly dead for an extended period of time as San Jose looked very content to sit on a one goal lead. Houston finally created a good opportunity in the 33rd minute. Richard Mulrooney hit a corner kick straight to the head of Cameron Weaver, but the striker hit a poorly directed header wide of the goal.
Just three minutes later, Houston had another opportunity on a cross delivered by Brad Davis to Dominic Oduro. Unfortunately for them, the result was exactly the same, as Oduro headed it over the bar. Both teams quickly squandered more opportunities, as Geovanni hit a shot wide right in the 37th minute and Oduro skied a shot over the bar in the 39th.
After a solid half of play highlighted by missed opportunities, Houston finally found their equalizer in the second minute of stoppage time. Brian Mullan spectacularly beat two defenders and got to the byline. His initial cross was blocked by Busch, but the ball bounced right back to his feet. Mullan didn’t waste his second opportunity, sending the ball to the head of Brad Davis, who put a looping header into the top corner for the equalizing goal.
Houston looked to ride the wave of momentum from their goal late in the first half, but San Jose made life hard on them and neither team created much of anything to start the second half.
Finally, around the 56th minute, the action started to heat up. Bobby Boswell got the first real opportunity of the half with a header off a set piece, but his effort went over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Oduro had yet another chance but hit his shot right to Busch. In the 60th minute, Bobby Burling had an opportunity off of a free kick for San Jose, but he put his header over the crossbar.
The 63rd minute saw the beginning of what was almost certainly the most important sequence of the game. The Houston Dynamo had a corner kick where a ball was placed perfectly to the head of Weaver. Like all of his opportunities before, Weaver missed badly, wide to the right.
Almost immediately afterward, San Jose found their second goal to take the lead for good. Brandon McDonald surged down the left side and played a ball to Glen in the box. Glen appeared to have mis-controlled it, but the ball fell favorably to Giovanni, who blasted past Onstad. The goal capped a fantastic performance for the Designated Player in his first start in a San Jose uniform.
With the lead, San Jose were again content to sit back, let the Dynamo have more of the ball, and defend. It would be nine minutes before Houston created another opportunity. Geoff Cameron unloaded a long shot, but his effort was pushed wide by Busch.
In the 81st minute, Oduro hit another shot embarrassingly high over the crossbar. Fittingly, it would be his last action of the game, as he would be subbed off for Brian Ching just moments later.
The Dynamo looked hopeless to equalize despite having more of the ball since Geovanni’s goal, but Sam Cronin gave them new life in the 82nd minute. His dangerous studs- up challenge forced the official to produce a red card. With 10 men, San Jose would have a tough time the rest of the way.
In the 84th minute, Weaver had yet another opportunity. He hit a snap header off of a cross, but unfortunately for him, his effort went straight into the hands of Busch. Four minutes later, substitute Adrian Serioux was not closed down by San Jose and unloaded on a bullet from 35 yards. Just like Weaver’s header, it went straight into the arms of Busch.
Geoff Cameron had Houston’s best chance to equalize in the 90th minute. Boswell hit a great through-ball to Cameron, whose shot from 12 yards out hit the side netting. However, he appeared to have his clothing pulled by Tim Ward in the box. Ward was innocent in the eyes of the referee, and the result of the play was a harmless goal kick.
Houston had a couple more opportunities before the final whistle, but nothing came of either. Andrew Hainault headed a Brad Davis corner wide of the goal in the 91st minute and a long shot by Geoff Cameron went wide in the 93rd. Despite conceding a majority of the possession and going down a man in the 82nd minute, San Jose walked away from Robertson Stadium with an important 2-1 win.
With this second straight loss against a fringe playoff team, the Houston Dynamo have been effectively eliminated from the MLS playoff race. They were wasteful compared to their counterparts on the other side of the field, who created very few chances but didn’t fail to finish. For the first time in the Dynamo’s history, it appears their season is essentially over before any leaves have changed color.
Kevin McCauley is a United States-based soccer writer and podcaster who covers Major League Soccer and La Liga for Goal.com. To read his work on other subjects regarding the beautiful game, check out All Things Footy.
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