Two goals for Giles Barnes and a 65th minute winner for Ricardo Clark moved Houston seventh in the Eastern Conference, only three points back of fifth place New York. Here are three thoughts on the result at BBVA Compass Stadium:
1. Big names not missed for Houston – Tally Hall is out for the year with a knee injury, while Will Bruin’s own fitness issues cost him a place in today’s team. Houston, however, was no worse off on Saturday night, getting a 3-2 win over visiting Montréal.
In goal, Tyler Deric made two plays that hinted he could be an upgrade on the erratic Hall. In the first half, the 26-year-old burst off his line to cut off the angles on Marco Di Vaio, who had slipped behind the Dynamo defense to take a Andrés Romero cross 10 yards from goal. The pressure forced the veteran striker to push his shot wide, keeping the score 0-0.
In the second half, more strong anticipation from Deric allowed the temporary number one to get to a ball after an adroit Jack McInerney touch nearly created a chance. While the Montréal attacker managed to chest a cross away from two defenders, he wasn’t able to get to his ball before Deric, well off his line, smothered the chance.
Up top, Bruin’s absence wasn’t felt. While Omar Cummings deprives the attack of a focal point, the Dynamo make up for loss with their new duo’s versatility. Scoring his team’s first two goals, Barnes ran his season total to seven, while one of Cummings’ most consistent nights in Orange earned the appreciation of Dom Kinnear as he came off in the 77th minute.
2. Montréal playing beyond their record – After watching them for five bad months, you’d be forgiven for thinking Montréal would struggle until an offseason shakeup. But the team has already shaken up the squad that floundered through much of the season. With Di Vaio now being supported by an exciting three of Romero, Dilly Duka, and Ignacio Piatti, the Impact is a far more dangerous side. As Felipe adjusts to his deeper role, Montréal will continue to improve.
Obviously, they’re not there yet, but people who dismiss this Houston win as obligatory are be glossing over Montréal’s improvement. The Impact are still flawed, just not nearly as flawed as before.
3. Houston’s close enough to be dangerous – As bad as the Dynamo have been this season, they’re now only three points back of fifth place New York. And with only four draws, enough of their points are made up by wins to make the first tiebreaker a kind one.
Is Dom Kinnear really going to pull this off?
The defense is still a problem (Montréal’s second goal showed that), and the lack of a reliable goal scorer is an issue, yet with eight matches left in a season where only two Eastern Conference teams have distinguished themselves, here we are. For all the problems they had from games one through 26, Houston is in position now. With only one of their last eight games (all in the East) coming about D.C. or Sporting, the Dynamo can still play their way into the post season.