DC United not winning in Houston is becoming as certain as death and taxes. New signing James Riley's own-goal in and as stunner from Ricardo Clark were the difference tonight as the Dynamo opened their season with a 2-0 win.
People love to say that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. MLS fans can now revise that statement to say nothing is certain in life except death, taxes and DC United never winning in Houston. For the tenth time DC failed to win against the Dynamo thanks to an own-goal from defender James Riley and an outstanding tough angle goal from Ricardo Clark.
It was a bit of an ugly first half as neither team looked particularly sharp though the Dynamo were the more dominant side in terms of possession and chances.
Houston looked like a team that wants to play a more creative and attacking style this season but they're just not quite where they need to be yet to do it. The Dynamo had way too many heavy touches and passes that gave away the ball to DC and short circuited chances to attack.
The final five minutes or so of the half was nuts as Houston had a penalty that shouldn't have been called saved and Chris Korb was shown a yellow card that was a red card. Ricardo Clark's break from the midfield started after a DC player slipped and Korb ran him down and took out his feet just on the outside of the penalty area. Referee Baldomero Toledo was way behind the play and didn't get any good help from his assistant to get the call right.
Bill Hamid saved the penalty, reading Brad Davis the entire way, to keep the the match scoreless. Hamid followed that up a couple minutes later with another tremendous save. The real issue though is that one of MLS' new full-time officials, that they've been so proudly talking up while strutting around the yard like an aroused peacock, is a serial match ruiner.
In the end the first half was about the Dynamo not taking advantage of their chances and Hamid making two massive saves to keep his team in the match.
As for the second half, well it was certainly better than the first half though there were still plenty of mistakes and poor play. However it featured two goals and goals are always fun, it just took awhile to finally get them.
In the 80th minute the Dynamo earned a corner kick and it was delivered to the far post by Brad Davis. James Riley and Ricardo Clark both rose to meet the ball and it was Riley who made contact, directing the ball into his own goal past Hamid.
Houston added a second in the 89th minute when Ricardo Clark beat Hamid with a shot from a really tough angle from the right side of the DC penalty area.
It's a sold home opening win for the Dynamo who will remember all too well that home draws cost them a chance to play the MLS Cup final in their own stadium last season.
Ricardo Clark was your man of the match and not just because of the goal. He was active, aggressive and easily the Dynamo's best player overall. Giles Barnes showed flashes and should have a solid season. Will Bruin on the other hand was terrible missing several excellent chances in front of the goal and making numerous passing mistakes that blew up Dynamo attacks. It's didn't hurt tonight but they'll need Bruin to be better going forward.
DC will likely disappointed having suffered yet another loss in Houston but it's not the end of the world. They're a solid team that should be just fine in the tough Eastern Conference though they will need to find ways to score goals, especially if DeRo misses any significant time during the season.
A final fun fact. The Dynamo are now unbeaten in 26-straight regular season home games. They are within three games of equaling Real Salt Lake's MLS record of 29 games without a loss at home.