HOUSTON, Texas -- The Houston Dynamo have never lost a home opener and, thanks to two second half penalties separated by two minutes, that streak continued tonight at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo defeated the defending league champions Real Salt Lake 2-1.
Javier Morales gave RSL an early lead after he beat Bobby Boswell and buried a low shot past Pat Onstad. Despite having the better of the possession and frustrating the Dynamo for much of the first half, Salt Lake was undone by two penalty decisions against Jamison Olave that allowed Brad Davis to give the Dynamo a second half lead that they would not relinquish.
The victory celebration was tempered by the loss of Brian Ching to a hamstring strain in the first half. The Dynamo were quiet post-game about the extent of Ching’s injury and his availability for next week’s match against the Los Angeles Galaxy is in doubt.
The Dynamo had the first good chance of the half in the 8th minute after Dominic Oduro was able to pressure the RSL defenders in to giving away a corner. The cross found Andrew Hainault in space, but he was unable to direct the ball on frame, sending it wide to the left.
From there Real Salt Lake controlled the midfield and controlled possession, using excellent off-the-ball movement and accurate passing to force the Dynamo back in to their defensive zone. The build-up finally paid off for RSL in 18th minute. The Dynamp defense was left standing still as Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman found Javier Morales moving past Bobby Boswell. Morales, one-on-one with Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad, easily slotted home the match’s first goal.
The goal seemed to wake up the Houston midfield, which began to work the ball forward more effectively, allowing Oduro and Brian Ching to generate some scoring chances. The best chance was a chipped ball in to the box that RSL keeper Nick Rimando scooped up just ahead of the charging Ching.
Ching went down with a strained left hamstring in the 29th minute. He was taken straight to the locker room and Dominic Kinnear was forced to us his first sub of the match, bringing on Luis Angel Landin. Landin was very active for the rest of the half, challenging the RSL defense with his size and strength.
Salt Lake’s Chris Wingert picked up the match’s first yellow card in stoppage time for a hard tackle on Dynamo midfielder Brian Mullan.
The Dynamo started the second half much stronger than the first, earning a corner kick in the 47th minute. Once again, Andrew Hainault was able to get his head on the ball but failed to get the shot on goal, sending his header well wide.
The increased pressure from the Dynamo paid off in the 53rd minute when RSL defender Jamison Olave brought down Geoff Cameron just inside the box and referee Jair Marrufo awarded Houston a penalty. Brad Davis stepped up to the spot for the Dynamo and blasted the equalizer past Rimando.
In an amazing turn of events, Olave was once again called for a penalty after kicking out and tripping Luis Angel Landin in the box. Brad Davis again stepped up and coolly scored the Dynamo’s second goal of the match. The penalties occurred less than two minutes apart. Olave, who was not carded on the first penalty, received a yellow card on the second offense.
Real Salt Lake’s best chance to equalize in the second half came in the 71st minute when Fabian Espindola rocketed a shot off the goal post. Espindola used some fancy footwork to create the space but wasn’t able to find the back of the net.
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