In their opening match of the 2012 CONCACAF Champions League, the Houston Dynamo pulled off an important away win in El Salvador. With Olympia beating CD FAS in their first match, it was vital for the Dynamo to get three points here in order to keep pace. They needn't have worried about it -- aside from a (too little too) late rally from FAS they were in control throughout, eventually earning a 3-1 win.
Brian Ching nearly ensured a perfect start for the Dynamo, winning a free kick on the right flank and then nearly scoring from it, just failing to get on the end of the cross as FAS' defence went missing on the set piece. A similar situation played out at the other end of the pitch, with Alejandro Bentos very nearly causing Tyler Deric some major issues.
It was obvious very early on that the hosts weren't doing enough to limit Houston's attack, and they were made to pay the price in the 12th minute. Colin Clark was given all the time in the world to cross the ball in, and Jose Miguel Granadino didn't even bother tracking Ching's run in front of goal. That was an error, and the 34-year-old made him pay, smashing a header past Luis Contreras to make it 1-0.
FAS replied with a good scoring chance of their own, with Alexander Larin picking out Ricardo Ulloa with a free kick -- this time it was Houston's turn to give up a free header, apparently. Fortunately for the visitors, Ulloa's aim was nothing like as good as Ching's, and they'd emerge unscathed.
And then it was 2-0. Some great interplay set Kofi Sarkodie free down the right hand side, and upon seeing Cameron Weaver free at the back post, the fullback sent in a perfect cross. It would have been very difficult not to score, and Weaver didn't disappoint, doubling Houston's lead via a header that Contreras got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
The hosts managed to get back into the game but found themselves playing overelaborate football in front of Deric's goal. They were also fairly unlucky -- it's a bit of a mystery why FAS didn't get a penalty after Nathan Sturgis knocked down Bentos in the penalty box before halftime, and even when they got a break with a blown offside call, they still couldn't profit, with that same Bentos screwing a shot just wide when free on goal.
Houston needed a third goal to be completely confident in taking home the points, and they got it on the hour mark, when Sturgis curled a corner onto Je-Vaughn Watson's head, making it 3-0 with three headers. But that scoreline wouldn't last long thanks to an incredible blind flick from substitute Jonathan Aquila, who reacted to a loose ball with an instinctive backheel scoop that he managed to squeeze past Deric to get a goal back.
Deric had to move very quickly to preserve even that 3-1 lead when Edwin Sanchez let fly with a long-range piledriver, but the Dynamo keeper was up to the task, flying into a fingertip save that took the ball just beyond the post. A less charming part of his game popped up in the 84th minute, when he was booked for timewasting, but it was difficult to blame him with Houston edging closer to a big win.
Three minutes of stoppage time later, they got it.