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Davis scores late, gives Dynamo advantage over Santos in CCL

Ricardo Clark

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The Houston Dynamo were on the verge of having to head to Mexico needing a win to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Then Brad Davis stepped up in a huge way.

Davis scored an 89th-minute goal for the Dynamo to give them a 1-0 victory over Santos Laguna in the first leg of their quarterfinal series at BBVA Compass Stadium on Tuesday night. Davis, who entered the game at halftime, netted after a well-worked passing sequence with Corey Ashe, giving Houston the advantage before next week’s decisive leg in Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico.

The Dynamo were without head coach Dominic Kinnear for the match due to suspension, but that did not them from improving to 6-2-2 in CCL play as hosts. Houston has scored 17 times while giving up just eight goals during that span.

Santos Laguna will host the second leg next Wednesday, but the Dynamo should be well-rested as they are off during this weekend’s round of MLS action.

The winner of this series will meet either Tigres UANL or the Seattle Sounders in the semifinals.

What did you think of the Dynamo’s 1-0 win over Santos Laguna? Do you see Houston reaching the semifinals? How much of an added benefit is it that they are off this weekend from MLS play?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I thought the Orange played a great game. Again they played Barnes at forward and had a great result. When Cummings is finally healthy and ready to play forward, I expect Barnes will be back at Mid and opening up the game with his passes. He has a deft touch and good awareness around him. the more I see him play the more I am impressed. Driver was finally inserted but his play was brief. Still, from what I saw I was excited. i think this team is the strongest team DK has fielded. Ashe played pretty good, and I am reluctant to say so. But he did. I am anxious to see what bruner can do. All in all it was a great game and I honestly think they can win in Mexico.

    • Attendance was 17,454, which seems about right with about 13-15k actually at the game. There were quite a few season ticket holders who did not show up which was a little frustrating as there were also around a thousand or so Santos fans.

  2. I don’t understand why Houston would build a soccer specific stadium with a such a narrow field. I’m not even sure it was at the internationally required minimum. One of the big problems with playing in football or baseball stadiums has been how narrow the field often is. You would think that a soccer specific stadium would be wide enough.

    • The field at BBVA Compass is within FIFA International regulations at 115 yds x 70 yds. The width is the minimum, but it still meets the needs of international competitions and has obviously served the Dynamo well.

    • The field width is between the painted lines. There is room to widen the pitch, should Kinnear or the future manager want to play wider.

    • As I understand it the 115×70 dimensions intended to mimic Robertson are within the 110-120 and 70-80 that are international range. The latter would be at FIFA minimum for internationals but almost has to be OK because they’ve hosted a friendly already.

      You could probably go up to 120×75. The 120 is a certainty because they also host football.

      Worth throwing out there that in theory you could adjust the dimensions for an isolated friendly, no reason a January game has to be played to Kinnear dimensions. He’s tailoring the pitch size to his signees and style, but surely US soccer could work out a deal where they got to extend the endlines out a few yards.

  3. If I’m not mistaken CONCACAF Champs League uses away goals UNLESS/UNTIL you reach extra time of the 2nd leg, then all goals count the same. So as it stands, yes, a 2-1 loss in Torreon would see Houston through

  4. I hate to say it, but I have feeling that Dynamo going get slaughter in mexico. MLS teams dont have the budget to complete.

    • They don’t offer enough to the refs either. 😉

      Remember Santos – Columbus few years ago when Renteria scored wearing a non-numbered jersey that was already allowed on the field but the goal didn’t count?

      How does anyone explain that?

      MLS of course didn’t have the balls to protest. Had that legit goal counted, they would’ve

      advanced to the next round.

  5. Good result, but the away match will be tough. That being said, the days of it being impossible for an MLS team to go into Mexico and get a result are over.

    Not sure if it will happen this year, but I expect an MLS team to winthis competition in the next 1-5 years. An MLS team would win it every year if the league was organized like every other soccer league in the world with all the talent concentrated at the top in 1-3 teams.

  6. on the feed i was watching, which was not FSC, the announcer stated if Houston score 1 in Mexico, Santos would then have to score 3 to advance. this implies away goals do count. unless he is wrong of course.

    nice win by Houston. i can’t believe they couldn’t get that 2nd goal. hopefully it won’t haunt them.

    • True. Away goals are the tiebreaker. Santos can’t get any away goals, so they can’t let the series end tied, or Houston go through.

      Houston will advance with any tie. If they score at least 1, any 1 goal loss will also put them through.

  7. Yeah… Last year the Sounders went to the second leg in Torreon with one goal advantage and we all know how that turned out :/

    • The Sounders have also been a very mentally fragile team historically. Houston may not go through but they are historically tough as nails. I would find it shocking if they allowed themselves to get waxed like that.

  8. My main concern about the away leg is the poor oficiating. MLS teams have almost always had bad officiating in Mexico. Whether its anti American bias or fear of the crowd, it seems to happen too much. Wish there was something concacaaf or fifa could do.

    • I think to beat one of these Mexican teams you have to open it up. But I think that’s contrary to cliched American soccer tactical caution, and risks the game being a blowout either way. For a MLS team to win one of these they’re going to need to lump 3 in on a home game, or get in a shootout in Mexico. The teams are usually not on an even payroll or depth playing field so I don’t think you can try the usual UEFA CL approach of getting a home result and playing for a road draw.

    • Once bitten twice shy. Refs are refs. I was taught you go into a road game wanting to score first and take the crowd and refs out of the game. If you don’t want to worry about the refs it’s your job to put it beyond his ability to control.

      I’m not saying no ref complaints, I’m saying if you don’t want to worry about it put 2 or 3 in the net early. If you show up and play stalemate ball you are depending on no cards, no iffy PK calls, etc. It’s like a race car driver playing a fuel strategy game that depends on everyone else pitting but him. That only works every few years because most nights someone goes into the wall and suddenly everyone else is on your same pit strategy because they get to run under caution.

  9. I was at the game… from my angle it looked like while Driver could have definitely done better, the weight of the pass from Bruin was far too soft and ended up on his trailing leg. Agree?

    • I thought he just didn’t lead him, it happens, although they might want to work on it because there was a pattern of blowing numbers-up situations with poor passing choices/timing. Bruin had one where he kept the ball and duffed it, when everyone else on the rush probably had a better look. Not one of his better nights. To me, both nights so far the forward play has been underwhelming. People are pleased with Barnes but that’s almost more like a middie style he’s playing and his chances he’s failed to finish.

    • There’s blame on both sides. You’d expect someone with Driver’s rep to bury that no matter what, but Bruin hesitated a split second too long and his pass was a tad behind Driver.

  10. As much as we may be inclined to rue that sitter missed by Driver, Santos also had a couple, perhaps not as clear a”gimme” opportunities, that were missed.

    • In my opinion, not enough people are talking about this. It’s unfortunate Houston didn’t get the 2nd goal, but we cannot forget Quintero’s shocking sky ball after Hall blundered the clearance. Going into Mexico up 1-0 is far better than going in up 2-1.

  11. Yeah can’t believe we did not get the second goal. That could have elevated Driver to hero status immediately. I have never seen Hall screw up once let alone twice. Another memorable game attended though. We will needs lots of luck (like yesterday) and inspired play in order to advance.

    • He has usually not kicked the ball straight up the middle to people, but if you go back to his first full starting season, he had a bad habit of kicking balls over the sideline. I think when he gets nerves his distribution suffers, and that along with getting in patterns of parrying instead of catching are his weaknesses.

      It might be surprising because he’d seemed to have grown out of it but it’s not entirely out of character.

  12. Pleasantly surprised by the result and the game. It was nice to see Dom roll out an A side against Santos.. Cory Ashe, Boswell and Moffat played really well. Especially Moffat.. that guy was constantly breaking up Santos attack.

      • All due respect but I saw zilch from Ching last night. He had 5 goals all last season. It’s a mythic boost.

        What I felt like gave us an actual boost was Driver getting in. At that point we had a few creative players in the game and instead of hoofing it forward or playing into space in the direction of the corners, we started combination passing into dangerous spots, eventually getting the Davis goal. My two cents on Houston of recent years are that it had become a defensive cliche of itself. We’d always had DeRo an Holden and those types to force teams to take us seriously offensively as well. This midfield is building that direction. What’s missing right now is some forward finishing and perhaps a speedy forward to catch people on the counter. On paper that’s what Cummings was supposed to be but we may have bet on a lame horse.

      • I see where you are coming from but one thing I think Ching brings is better hold up play and passing than either Bruin or Barnes. He just seems to link up better with the midfield and they seem to make better runs off of him. Ching has never been a great goal scorer and I don’t see him as a starter anymore either.

  13. Great game to watch. Chances on both ends. Big misses for both teams. Can’t believe Houston didn’t get that second goal.

      • I still remember watching my first game…..

        Here are 3 reasons among others that someone might not be a fan of Clark, you can probably see them on Youtube.

        Try watching him against FC Dallas in 2007, against Italy in 2009 and against Ghana in 2010.

      • After watching those, watch the Gold Cup Final from 2007 and give Rico a break. The man has had his ups and downs with the USMNT. He is only human. I by no means want Rico back in the USMNT fold, but he has done more in his career than his highly publicized bad games.

        The bad red card… Indefensible…

      • T&T last qualifying cycle, Venezuela friendly, etc. etc. I could understand someone on balance saying he’s not good enough for the World Cup, but he’s generally been good for the Dynamo, contributed well to the USMNT in sub-World Cup level contests, and….well…..who hasn’t wanted to take a whack at El Pescadito. He should know better but geez that was 6 years ago and he traded jerseys with him after the DC game, if Ruiz can let it go you should.

      • I was cracking up at how they seemed so buddy buddy! By the time I woke up and reached for the camera, the moment had passed though.. kicking myself that I missed that shot.

      • Ghana 2010 was Bradley’s fault. Clark hadn’t fully recovered his form after injury. It was obvious in the England game thats why Bradley took him off in the first half.

    • If they tie 2-2 or higher they go thru….they just need to maintain the intensity and tempo and not let the away factor get to them….Santos hardly ever sells out their stadium for CCL anyway so I doubt the crowd is much bigger than say 20K…nothing out of the ordinary.

      They should probably consider starting Brad Davis from the beginning tho…..or let Boniek-Garcia play in his natural side of Right Mid, and let say Driver play on the left, he seems to be pretty fast and smart with the ball and can find spaces

      • Can someone enlighten me on the rules for CCL? How would a 1-1 tie in Torreon not send Houston through? For that matter, how would a 2-1 loss not send them through on away goals? I assume the rules are different than the European CL?

      • I think the commentor who said if they 2-2 meant on aggregate… however, I am not sure if Concacaf CL actually uses the away goal rule, I know they used to NOT use it. I would look it up but my computer is crap.

        I fully expect Santos to role out their best squad for this next match and Houston is in deep trouble. Hoping for Houston, but not counting on it.

      • As of 2007 it could not have been the rule because Houston went into Pachuca up 2-0, the second leg was 4-2 in regulation, and that would have favored Houston on away goals. Instead I understood it was simple aggregate, it went to OT, Pachuca got a 5th and advanced.

        Maybe the rule changed in the interim or maybe the announcer is wrong, but 6 years ago the rule was not what he says.

      • Away goals rule is in effect for CONCACAF Champions League. It has not always been so.

        If Houston scores in Torren, then Santos will have to win by multiple goals to advance.

      • Unbelievable Driver missed a sitter on that second goal. It is going to cost the Dynamo for sure.

        As much as I hope Houston can score goals in Torreon, the reality is how are they going to prevent Santos from scoring at home. I believe Santos’ field is wider and they will be pulling the Dynamo defense apart. Houston will need to put Boniek out on the wing to create any scoring chances as yesterday there were far and few in between.

        They are missing DeRo as someone who provides that unpredictable element to their game. Bruin is pretty predictable so unless Dynamo play great defense again next week, they are going to lose.

      • Bruin’s pass to Driver was poor and he couldn’t get it out from under his feet.

        Lets not forget that Santos defense is good; they have only given up 6 goals so far this year in Liga MX.

      • But their attacking depth is not as good as in previous years when they had Chucho Benitez and Daniel Ludena.

        Now is the best time for Dynamo to beat them since they are a little more balanced than in previous years.

      • On both the goal and the non-goal the passes were behind the forwards. Davis just managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat with a snap shot across the goal.

        In terms of what I watched last night what was missing was finishing. We’re getting chances, it’s the forwards who are not doing anything. Bruin runs hot and cold and what I am seeing is we have a lot of middie talent — including Barnes up top — but maybe only one reliable healthy forward. I generally agree that we could use a DeRo type who can create for himself and playmake, particularly if we have title aspirations, but that was not the issue last night.

        If you get the fans the home result you have your chance on the road. We did that. I do worry that Kinnear’s Stalemate Machine is not enough to go into Mexico and win the series with a goal lead, that’s been proven in CCL before, Pachuca, Saprissa, Atlante. I don’t think we can bunker Santos for 90, which is his usual road tactics. Need to try something tactically different.

      • you’re right on about the passes being very similar, the people receiving the pass just went about the situation differently. Davis slowed his run and opened his body so he could trap and shoot; where as driver was in full gallop, likely looking to just shoot it one time as opposed to trapping it, then shooting.

      • Any draw (1-1 or 0-0) will put Houston through.

        As long as Houston scores at least 1, any 1 goal loss should also do it (e.g. 1-2, 2-3, etc.)

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