Saturday, April 30, 2011

Something Is Bruin In Houston, Texas

Another two Brad Davis assists, and another win for the Houston Dynamo, as the former MLS Cup champions look to consolidate a position towards the top of the Eastern Conference.

Pre-season, Houston were handed  huge slice of fortune as they were moved into the East, to make way for Portland and Vancouver, two expansion sides that were added to the West. Significantly weaker than the West, the Eastern Conference offers a relatively easy route to the playoffs, one that Dominic Kinnear will be confident his team can take advantage of.

After losing to Philadelphia on opening day, Houston have rebounded well, and are unbeaten in the league since that loss to the Union. Two successive away draws in Seattle and New York, were followed by wins over Vancouver and New England, before a late Bobby Boswell goal earned the Dynamo a 1-1 draw with Chicago last week.

This time around, no late heroics would be needed, Houston positively cruised past DC United, inflicting a second consecutive four goal loss on the visitors. All the headlines will be devoted to rookie Will Bruin, out of Indiana, Bruin scored his first MLS goal in a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, and he was at it again on Friday night, scoring a hat trick.

With just a few minutes on the clock, Bruin found himself through on goal, and easily slotted past goalkeeper Bill Hammid for 1-0. His second came late in the first half, a header which restored the lead for Houston, they had conceded an equalizer after DC capitalized on a free kick. Unsurprisingly, the architect of Bruin's second goal was the influential Brad Davis, who has now eclipsed Vancouver's David Chiumiento, and is currently Major League Soccer's assist king.

Fifty-seven minutes in, Bruin completed his hat trick, again off a Davis cross, and again via his head. At 3-1 down, DC were never going to come back, Charlie Davies looked severely off the pace, and Andy Najar wasn't seeing enough of the ball to make any kind of meaningful impact.

At the back, DC were all at sea, every Brad Davis delivery was causing havoc in the penalty area, and Houston players were getting in behind with ease, both Cameron and Davis' ability to spot a through ball were  reducing Ben Olsen's back line to an absolute shambles. However, the DC defense were still yet to reach their nadir, a moment which arrived on sixty-two minutes. A long throw in from the half way line set Cam Weaver through on goal, and the striker made no mistake, thrashing the ball into the roof of the net from a difficult angle. On the sideline, Ben Olsen looked disgusted at his team's error strewn performance, one embodied by the lack of concentration which resulted in Houston's fourth and final goal of the night.

With a three goal lead intact, Dominic Kinnear found time to introduce some new talent, as well as help others return from injury. Jamaican Watson, and Spaniard Koke both made their MLS debuts in the second half, and the Dynamo were able to welcome Brian Ching back from an injury sustained away in New York. With those introductions, and the Dynamo knocking the ball around with ease, the game began to develop a party atmosphere, the crowd clearly delighted by their team's showing.

Obviously, Dominic Kinnear will be delighted with the performance of his side, and particularly that of a few key individuals. Will Bruin was not only impressive in the goalscoring department, but also in his overall play, he looks strong, fast and capable of creating chances out of nothing. Captain for the night, Brad David produced yet another magnificent showing, the American midfielder's deliveries from corners, free kicks and open play took the breath away, and really he should have probably had more than just the two assists. In defense, Bobby Boswell looked solid once again, though he did miss quite a good chance to score, after he sliced wide inside the six yard box.

Screaming on the touch line all night, Ben Olsen will no doubt be furious with his team's performance. Lapses in concentration were once again punished by the opposition, with the back line not inspiring confidence in anyone save the opponent's center forwards. While the DC defense has been questionable all season, their attack has been dynamic, but last night if just wasn't clicking for any of the forward line. Davies played like a someone still recovering from a major injury, and Josh Wolff played like someone who had never seen a football in his life, his missed opportunity at 2-1 arguably lost the game for United.

With that victory, Houston have propelled themselves to top of the East, but if both New York and Philadelphia capitalize on routine home games this weekend, the the Texans will drop down to third. DC meanwhile find themselves languishing in seventh, and with the teams below them having played fewer games, the future looks ominous for the team from the capital.

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