Brad Davis ushered in a new era for the Houston Dynamo in style on a sparkling Texas afternoon Saturday, scorching the game-winning goal from 35 yards out to fuel the Dynamo’s 1-0 over D.C. United in the first-ever game at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The decisive moment couldn’t have played out any better for the sellout crowd of 22,304 fans or Davis, one of a number of past and present Dynamo players memorialized on pillars throughout the newest soccer-specific stadium in MLS. His left-footed shot from the center of the field curled off the outstretched hand of D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid and into the net, sending the sea of orange-clad fans into ecstasy.
Davis, who like fellow Dynamo stars Brian Ching, Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell had never played a home game in a soccer-specific stadium until Saturday, didn’t hesitate with his celebration. He sprinted to the south stands, sprung over the end boards and was gone, swallowed up by a swooning group of team supporters who had waited since 2006 to call a new stadium their own.
The win snapped a five-game winless streak for the Dynamo (3-3-2), who played the first seven games this season on the road while their new stadium was built in the shadow of the Houston skyline.
It also tightened the team’s grip in Texas on D.C. United (5-4-3), who are now winless in six games all-time in Houston. DC came into Saturday’s game winners of three of their last five games overall, but never found the spark to crack Houston’s defense and had to lean on Hamid to help the Dynamo from turning the game into a rout.
A number of Houston’s best chances at blowing the game open fell on the foot of Ching, the Dynamo captain who last year said he would return for another season in order to call a soccer-specific stadium home. But unlike when he christened Houston’s first game at Robertson Stadium in 2006 by scoring four goals, he never quite found the final touch on Saturday before he was subbed out to a standing ovation in the 84th minute.
His best chance came in the 76th minute, when Hamid parried away his shot from close range. He was back at it in the 77th minute but flicked a shot over the bar from six yards out.
Hamid also came up with a diving save on a shot from 35 yards out on midfielder Adam Moffat in the 46th and denied a chance for striker Will Bruin in the 73rd minute.
Former Houston Dynamo midfielder and current D.C. playmaker Dwayne De Rosario had a quiet day in the new stadium, but nearly assisted on the equalizer off a free kick in stoppage time. But goalkeeper Tally Hall corralled a far post header from D.C. defender Daniel Woolard to preserve the shutout.
Neither team seriously threatened to score in the first half hour, although D.C. striker Maicon Santos trickled a re-directed shot from an Andy Najar cross wide of the post in the 13th minute. That was DC’s best scoring chance before the break, as the Dynamo settled in and created the bulk of the opportunities, especially in the final 10 minutes of the half.
That’s when Bobby Boswell tried an ambitious heel flick after Hamid punched out a Davis free kick, and then the Dynamo defender had another good look sail off his foot and over the bar in the 36th minute.
Houston’s best look was still to come, however, and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson likely won’t forget it soon. He controlled a cross from winger Calen Carr in the DC box and had a clear look at the stadium’s historic first goal, but scorched a shot over the crossbar with the last play of the first half.
D.C. didn’t escape the match unscathed on the injury front, as midfielder Perry Kitchen had to be subbed out for Stephen King in the 29th minute after an apparent injury to his right ankle.
The Dynamo won’t wait long to play their first game at BBVA Compass Stadium under the lights. They host the Portland Timbers on Tuesday evening, while D.C. United host the Colorado Rapids on May 16.
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)