File this under “Hardly a State Secret:” the Houston Dynamo are darn hard to beat at home.
Twas always so, going back to the Spartan ground on the University of Houston campus in a very rough part of town.
Everyone around MLS knows that Houston is among the toughest places ever in MLS to go get points. Dominic Kinnear’s team may not always be the most technically proficient – although he has a very skillful bunch at the moment, especially in midfield – but the team’s hallmark competiveness has always driven the Dynamo effort.
Throw in the narrow field that fits so well with the Dynamo way, and Kinnear’s team can always teach the MLS field about how to make things tough at your home ground.
Now, it’s official.
The Dynamo’s 2-0 win over San Jose matched a league record; Houston has gone 34 consecutive matches across all competitions without a loss. That matches Real Salt Lake’s record unbeaten streak at home, one that Jason Kreis’ teams built from 2009-2011.
Saturday’s match at BBVA Compass Stadium, where the Dynamo are yet to lose, was notable for one other reason:
Chris Wondolowski had a quiet night. Again. The Dynamo remain the one and only MLS club against which Wonder Wondo has yet to strike. So, that’s 18 with a check mark, one with a big red “X.”
(Tomorrow, we’ll have a little more to say about the team Kinnear has assembled this year.)
Goals by Will Bruin and Giles Barnes (pictured) were the difference Saturday. The top highlight from the match at BBVA Compass Stadium (with the rest coming as soon as the package is available):
Alexis Sanchez leaves Arsenal match with apparent right hamstring injury
Neymar is playing as well as any player in the world, so it makes sense that anyone would be interested in signing the player were it a possibility, but would the Barcelona star considering swapping shirts with his current club’s biggest rival? Florentino Perez wants to woo the Brazilian to the Bernabeu, according to AS, though it’s an absolute head-scratcher as to why — aside from Perez’s wild ego — this move could go down.
Jamie Vardy could leave Leicester City, says the Independent. The thought here is that the Foxes couldn’t refuse a $45 million offer from a giant like Chelsea or Manchester City. Straight swap for Diego Costa (We kid, we kid; How would the mercurial striker possibly live with Tony Pulis?).
Burnley defender Michael Keane continues to impress as the Clarets aim for a Premier League return, and The Sun says Aston Villa is joining Manchester United and Everton with interest in the 22-year-old back.
The same publication says Everton back John Stones is taking Spanish lessons in preparation for a move to Barcelona (although many people speak Spanish in soccer, of course). The Sunday Mirror says Arsenal could also move for Stones.
Sky Italia says Leicester’s Andrej Kramaric is looking toward, essentially, all the big names in Serie A. AC Milan and Juventus are among the clubs mentioned by the report.
Jack Butland is having a strong season for Stoke, and the young English keeper is wanted by both of the Merseyside’s Premier League clubs, according to The Sun. The price? $30 million.
Harry Kane forced Asmir Begovic into two good saves in the first half and Song Hueng-min should’ve scored in the second half with a header but even after after a grueling 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday night for Europa League action which saw them arrive back in England at 6 a.m. local time Friday, manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t pleased his team didn’t win to move into the top four.
“No, not really happy. We deserved more than we got, so I was disappointed, but it’s true that I’m proud of the players. For me they’re big heroes,” Pochettino told ProSoccerTalk. “The effort was massive. Chelsea played one of their best games of the season, and when you make the effort we showed and the maturity, you have to be happy with your players but disappointed with one point.”
With Spurs now stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games this season — their one and only defeat in 2015-16 came on the opening day of the season, 1-0 at Manchester United — Pochettino was asked if his side, who sit five points off the top, should be pleased that a draw against Chelsea felt like two points dropped.
The Argentine coach then released his inner Jose Mourinho — the pair have a close relationship and before Poch came to coach in England he spoke at length to Mourinho — dishing out a backhanded compliment to the master of the backhanded compliment.
“This is a good thing. We play the champions. It’s good. You got the feeling that Chelsea were a small team and Tottenham can win every game we play,” Pochettino said. “It’s very difficult, though. Not easy. We’re the youngest team in the PL and the maturity we showed today we have shown in different games. We have to feel happy. It’s a good thing that, maybe, we are a bigger club than Chelsea or that we deserve more. We showed good performances in the last few games, and I’m happy, but we have to keep working hard. We’ve only had 14 games in the PL and it’s too early to think about the end of the season.”
Whether or not those comments were lost in translation from a man who is still getting used to English as his second language, Pochettino clearly felt Spurs deserved more than the point they got and it’s apparent from the differing predicaments both teams find themselves in that Spurs have more chance of winning the title and finishing in the top four than Chelsea this season.