BY DARRELL LOVELL
HOUSTON – With a 32-game home unbeaten streak in the balance, the Houston Dynamo showed once again that they can pull out some late magic.
Down a goal in the second half to the dangerous Vancouver Whitecaps, things changed in Houston’s favor in the 55th minute when Barnes put a bow on a sublime sequence down the right flank from Will Bruin, Kofi Sarkodie and Ricardo Clark to pull the Dynamo even with a powerful header past Joe Cannon to draw Houston level.
Creavalle finished the comeback off with a goal born of his style of play when he outworked several Whitecaps players in a scrum on the ground to kick the ball in goal and seal the hardworking victory.
The midfielders picked an opportune time to open their MLS accounts to pull out a 2-1 win and extend the club’s unbeaten streak to 33 in all competitions, one shy of Real Salt Lake’s mark set in 2011.
“We were unfortunate to go down in the first half,” Creavalle said. “The boys kept battling and we were able to make that second-half push. We are very pleased with the victory.”
Houston was under pressure due to the hard work of Darren Mattocks. The sophomore striker laid dormant for most of the opening stanza but sprung to life in 36th minute when he turned Eric Brunner, who started in place of the absent Jermaine Taylor, and fired a golazo past a helpless Tally Hall to draw first blood.
Mattocks was a thorn in the Dynamo’s side at times all night as the leader of a Whitecaps squad that was intent on using it’s speed to pressure the Dynamo. Mattocks had six shots on the night and came close to equalizing twice after Creavalle’s goal as the ‘Caps pushed for a late equalizer. No attempt came closer than when Camilo managed to hit both the crossbar and right post on an 81st minute free kick.
“We hit both posts off one shot and that was a key moment,” Vancouver head coach Martin Reenie said. “We probably had four clear chances and tonight we only took one of them. Genuinely coming here tonight we thought we had a good chance to win and showed that throughout the game.”
Houston seemed to control the run of play but things were more even than on first glance. The Dynamo were playing without internationals Brad Davis, Boinek Garcia and Taylor. They did get a boost from Will Bruin who past a pregame fitness test to get the start after suffering a hamstring injury against FC Dallas.
Led by Andrew Driver, who put in a tireless effort, the Dynamo spent a lot of time in the Whitecaps half as Houston out-shot its opponents 17-10, although Vancouver had an edge in shots on goal 6-4, despite things being even on possession and passing.
Much of that disparity came in the first half when the Dynamo had numerous chances but sent most of them into the stands.
In the end, Creavalle and Barnes came through and kept the Dynamo’s home mystique in tact. Houston will attempt to tie RSL’s streak against the San Jose Earthquakes next week while Vancouver travels to face Chivas USA.
Beyond the highlights I have no clue what happened because this was the first of several games on a local sports network less than half the city has. I can’t believe the Dynamo joined the Astros and Rockets in the broadcast black hole. I mean, few actually want to see the Astros but the Rockets are the best kept secret in town because they are on CSN.
Superficial observations, the real forwards are not scoring, we had trouble stopping Mattocks last year because of backline speed. But we did knock in a couple and get the result, and the midfield seems strong. I just hope Kinnear is noticing what is, and is not, working because this team has a lot of last year’s pluses and minuses, and needs some revamping if we have title aspirations.
Vancouver hasn’t won on the road since July 4th, 2012. Their road record since then is 2 draws and 9 losses. What did you think was going to happen when they came into the toughest stadium in the league?
Where is the C-USA and Fire running commentary?
Vancouver showed they are legit this year, but the stats lie a bit. Houston controlled the run of play in the 2nd half until the final 15 minutes or so when they were forced to defend their lead and Vancouver was pushing hard for the equalizer. That distorted the stats a bit.
That said, I can see Vancouver making a deep playoff run this year, and I can’t wait to watch them play LA, and maybe get some revenge.