The Canadian's goal off a corner was the decider in an unremarkable match.SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- André Hainault connected with a Brad Davis corner kick in the first half to lead the Houston Dynamo to a 1-0 road win against the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose had just qualified for the playoffs, while Houston had been eliminated, but their roles were switched on the evening, with the Dynamo looking like more than a match for the Earthquakes through long stretches of the game.
The game stopped almost as quickly as it had started, with Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch receiving a cut within less than a minute of play. Busch went down low to block a cross from Dominic Oduro and collided with a Dynamo forward, causing referee Michael Kennedy to stop play for over six minutes to allow the injury to be treated.
After the restart, Houston looked the more comfortable of the two sides, comfortably dealing with most of the long balls that San Jose pumped out of the back looking for target man Ryan Johnson. The Earthquakes also launched the occasional counter, while Houston looked to the pace and skill of Dominic Oduro and Danny Cruz to stretch the San Jose defense.
The Earthquakes were starting to move the ball better, with Johnson and Chris Wondolowski providing some dangerous balls in, but just as the home side was starting to pick things up, Houston pegged them back. Brad Davis lined up a corner kick after Oduro's shot had been deflected behind and Andrew Hainault got on the end to put the visitors up 1-0.
The Earthquakes appeared to lose confidence after the goal and continued to look shaky on set pieces and crosses while giving away a number of balls in the center of the pitch. The defense nearly gifted Dominic Oduro a goal in the 33rd minute but were saved by a smart tackle from Bobby Burling. Soon after, another giveaway, this time from Sam Cronin, saw Brad Davis unleash a fearsome left-footed shot
Ryan Johnson's cross was barely cleared by Houston defense in the 39th minute as the Earthquakes pushed forward before halftime, but even with the extended injury time from Busch's injury, San Jose couldn't find a way past the resolute Dynamo.
Neither side looked settled at the outset of the second half, tough San Jose were lacking any real spark out of the back while Houston continued to push men forward. Oduro's pace continued to trouble the slower San Jose back line, and Busch had to be on alert in the San Jose goal.
Although the Quakes started to take more control of the ball around the hour mark when they shortened their passing game, they could still not find a a way past the Houston backline and were nearly caught out when a slip allowed Oduro to go clean through, only for Busch to deny him one-on-one.
The Earthquakes had two penalty shouts as the game wore on, with Bobby two players going down in the box, but the referee didn't deem either challenge worthy of a penalty. Still, the Earthquakes were moving the ball better and apart from a chaotic sequence in their box, mostly kept the ball out of their own half.
With 10 minutes remaining the Eathquakes really started to pressure high and Arturo Alvarez went down in the box under a hard challenge after blowing by the Hosuton defense, but Michael Kennedy again declined to make a call. Wondolowski had a header deflected wide, but on the other end, Corey Ashe almost iced the win with a rocket that was tipped over by Busch.
Bobby Convey very nearly grabbed an equalizer at the death after Arturo Alvarez set him up at the edge of the area, but his shot took some paint off the wrong side of the post and went out for a goal kick. Wondolowski nearly scored a spectacular equalizer at the death, and indeed much of the crowd though he'd scored, but it went just over sending the Earthquakes to their second straight home defeat.
Nick Rosano is a NorCal-based contributor for Goal.com. Follow him on Twitter @nicholasrosano for more MLS insight and the occasional moment of hilarity.
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