Danny Cruz scored in his first-ever MLS start and Dominic Oduro hit an impressive second-half volley as the Dynamo bagged a comfortable 2-0 victory over D.C. United on Saturday night, keeping Houston in the thick of the Western Conference race and heaping further misery on D.C.’s worst-ever start.
Dominic Kinnear’s decision to start Cruz paid immediate dividends for Houston, as the young midfielder’s speed was on display the entire night. After his first effort on goal was saved by Troy Perkins, Cruz gave the Dynamo the lead in the 10th minute of a feed from Luis Landin, who had drawn the United defense.
The 20-year-old Cruz kept his effort low and just off the inside of the post, giving Houston a 1-0 lead and becoming the youngest player to ever score for the Dynamo.
After Houston dominated the first 25 minutes, D.C. began to slowly get their feet underneath them and began to return the favor. United had two chances to equalize in a span of five minutes. In the 26th, Jordan Graye flicked the ball to the far post that just missed Clyde Simms.
Minutes later, midfielder Christian Castillo sent a low ball across the box that forced ‘keeper Tally Hall to extend a hand and pushing the ball to safety.
But the second half was all Houston, and Dynamo extended their lead 10 minutes after the break. In the 55th, Landin played a give-and-go with Cruz and sent in a cross to forward Dominic Oduro. The speedy Ghanaian one-timed the ball, ripping it into the net and gave Houston a 2-0 lead.
After bagging his second assist on the night, however, Landin almost singlehandedly let United back in the match. The forward was lucky not to receive a red card for his tackle on substitute Chris Pontius in the 57th minute. Referee Kevin Stott gave the Mexican a yellow and Kinnear didn’t waste much time before replacing him with Cam Weaver, who made his first appearance in 2010.
The final 30 minutes had Houston in control of the match and D.C. struggling to chase in the humidity. Houston were lucky not to have put another goal on the board, but the Dynamo were also content to run out the match and preserve the first shutout for Hall.
With the victory, Houston remain tied for second place in the Western Conference. United, meanwhile, dropped their third match in a row and fall to 1-8-0 on the season, continuing their nightmare season.
HOU -- Danny Cruz 1 (Luis Landin 2, Eddie Robinson 2) 10
HOU -- Dominic Oduro 2 (Luis Landin 3) 55
DC -- Juan Manuel Pena (caution; Reckless Foul) 18
HOU -- Luis Landin (caution; Reckless Foul) 57
DC -- Rodney Wallace (caution; Reckless Foul) 65
HOU -- Brad Davis (caution; Reckless Tackle) 68
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Jordan Graye, Juan Pena, Carey Talley, Rodney Wallace, Adam Cristman (Chris Pontius 46), Kurt Morsink (Luciano Emilio 46), Clyde Simms, Christian Castillo, Jaime Moreno (Andy Najar 60), Danny Allsopp.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz, Brad Davis (Craig Waibel 77), Lovel Palmer, Brian Mullan (Corey Ashe 78), Luis Landin (Cam Weaver 61), Dominic Oduro.
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Nate Clement; Eric Boria
4th Official: Elias Bazakos
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 84 degrees