On a night when the Houston Dynamo were dominant against D.C. United, the game ultimately came down to being in the right place at the right time.
And it was D.C. United tormentor Will Bruin who made no mistake on a gifted goal in second-half stoppage time to give the Dynamo a 1-0 win Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium to end their eight-game winless streak.
After missing with headers twice in the first half, Bruin was in the right place at the right time in the first minute of added time when rookie Steve Birnbaum blocked goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s path to a loose ball in the box. Substitute forward Omar Cummings beat the flailing pair and made things easy for a Bruin tap in for his 10th all-time goal against DCU.
It was Houston’s first win since a 1-0 decision over the LA Galaxy May 17.
The late goal was deserved as Houston outshot United 20-7 on the night, while stifling the opponent’s attack for their first shutout in nine games. Houston (6-11-4) move to 22 points, five out of the final playoff spot, while D.C. (11-6-4) remain on 37 points and in second in the Eastern Conference.
Houston were as dominant as a team could be without a goal in the first half.
With new blood in the lineup, in the form of US national team defender DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran international midfielder Luis Garrido, the hosts outshot their opponents 13-2 in the opening 45 minutes.
The club’s two best chances came off the head of Bruin in the first 22 minutes, missing by inches on both attempts.
In the seventh minute he redirected a sterling Giles Barnes cross off the woodwork and 15 minutes later saw his high one parried over the bar by Hamid. On both, the forward found space in the D.C. defense who struggled in the first half to track runners and avoid turnovers.
Twice the Dynamo turned D.C. midfield miscues into breaks, but Hamid was up to the task. The first was in 10th minute when Ricardo Clark’s sterling tackle led to a Boniek Garcia shot that was saved by the USMNT goalkeeper. Garcia played supplier in the 39th minute, picking off a pass at midfield to ignite the break. But Barnes’ bullet was right at the D.C. custodian.
Just before Barnes’ break Luis Silva nearly stole one for D.C. Losing his footing on an Eddie Johnson layoff, the midfielder hit a trickling ball from distance that appeared to cause retreating Tally Hall problems in goal. It rolled wide to keep the game scoreless.
D.C. applied more pressure after the halftime break and nearly claimed the first goal when Chris Rolfe finally called Hall into action. After a poor clearance from Jermaine Taylor, Rolfe teed the ball up and it low and to Hall’s right. The 6-foot-5 ‘keeper stretched out to stop the effort.
D.C. are back in action Saturday at Real Salt Lake, while Houston will visit the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 10.
DCU Lineups: Hamid, Boswell, Kemp, Franklin, Birnbaum, Rolfe, Arnaud, Neal (Seaton 75'), Kitchen, Johnson, Silva (Martin 60')
HOU Lineups: Hall; Sarkodie, Horst, Taylor, Beasley; García, Garrido (Ownby), Clark, Davis (Driver 88); Barnes (Cummings), Bruin
Goals: Bruin 90+
Discipline: Kemp 5', Kitchen 72'