Houston manager Dominic Kinnear would surely have preferred to keep his main men on the bench for tonight CONCACAF Champions League match down at BBVA Compass Stadium in Texas.
The opportunity factor was high – but the games are coming fast and furious and MLS playoff positioning is the priority, and rest for the regulars is paramount.
So he left Oscar Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis and Will Bruin in the bench to start, but did turn to his top trio of attackers as second half subs. And they made the difference, helping to create a late goal as the Dynamo seized control of Group 1 with an important 2-1 win over Panama’s Arabe Unido.
The Panamanians scored early on penalty kick and only a big save from Tally Hall kept the Dynamo from going down 2-0 at home. Remember, in the new, smaller group format of this annual tournament, points are especially precious because there are fewer group stage matches. Thus, just one loss at home would do serious damage chances of advancing into next year’s elimination rounds.
But Cam Weaver scored after 22 minutes as the Dynamo fought off injury-stall theatrics from the bunkering visitors, not to mention Unido’s fairly dangerous counter attack.
Boniek Garcia came in at the half for Alex Dixon. Davis was soon on for Jason Johnson, and Bruin came in for the final 13 minutes in place of young forward Alexander Lopez. Houston was more assured in the second half, and it was the veteran Davis who fed Weaver for the game-winner.
The win was especially important to cinch off any lingering hurt from the franchise’s worst loss to date, a 5-0 spanking from Montreal in Canada last weekend.
Houston is back into MLS play Sunday at Chicago.