PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 14: Danny Cruz #5, Brad Davis #11 and Andre Hainault of the Houston Dynamo celebrate scoring against the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on October 14, 2011 in Portland Oregon. Davis executed a corner kick to Hainault who hit in in with his head. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Je-Vaughn Watson 77), Brad Davis (Colin Clark 74), Calen Carr (Will Bruin 81), Carlo Costly.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Ching, Hunter Freeman, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Mike Chabala (David Horst 66), Sal Zizzo (Jorge Perlaza 46), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 74), Darlington Nagbe.
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, James Marcelin, Rodney Wallace, Jake Gleeson.
The Houston Dynamo moved into second place in the Eastern Conference and opened up a six-point gap in the race for a playoff spot with a 2-0 road win over the Portland Timbers Friday night at a sold-out JELD-WEN Field. Although Houston cannot mathematically clinch a playoff spot this weekend, the Dynamo now lead Portland by six points and D.C. United by eight points as Houston tries to reach the postseason for the fifth time in the club’s six-year history.
Now unbeaten in its last five games (3-0-2), Houston will host the Supporters’ Shield champion LA Galaxy on Sunday, October 23, at Robertson Stadium in the final game of the MLS regular season.
Friday’s win was the Dynamo’s second straight on the road, coming on the heels of Houston’s 1-0 win at Dallas on September 24. The consecutive road wins are Houston’s first since June 5-13, 2009. The Dynamo have now recorded shutouts in back-to-back road games for the first time since posting three straight road shutouts June 21-July 23, 2008.
With the win, Houston swept the season series from the expansion Timbers, coached by former Houston assistant John Spencer. The Dynamo won the teams’ first meeting, on August 14, by a 2-1 score. The game marked the third time this season Houston scored two goals in a road game; the Dynamo tied D.C. United 2-2 on June 25 and Columbus 2-2 on September 14.
The Dynamo improved to 11-9-13, reaching two games over .500 for the first time since they were 3-1-3 on April 29.
In Friday night’s game, Houston controlled possession in the first half and broke through from a free kick in the 36th minute. Midfielder Brad Davis bent in a cross from the left, and defender Andre Hainault headed it inside the near post to give Houston the lead. The goal was Hainault’s first of the season and came almost exactly one year after Hainault’s last goal, a header from a corner kick in a 1-0 road win over San Jose on October 16, 2010. For Davis, the assist was the 15th of the season for the MVP candidate, tying him for the league lead. It was also his 70th career assist for the Dynamo in all competitions.
The Dynamo made it 2-0 and quieted the sellout crowd in the 59th minute when midfielder Danny Cruz, making his 12th start of the season, cut in from the right and floated a left-footed shot into the top left corner. It was Cruz’s second goal of the season and first since July 9, and the strike was later highlighted as the No. 8 play of the night on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Midfielder Luiz Camargo, who helped the Dynamo control the middle of the field throughout the game, was credited with his second assist on Cruz’s goal. The Dynamo are unbeaten in Camargo’s five starts.
With his opening goal, defender Andre Hainault became the 16th different Dynamo player to score in MLS play this season; Houston has used 25 field players in MLS action.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall was credited with four saves for his sixth shutout of the season and also made a crucial play in the 64th minute, diving at the base of the back post to knock away a cross that had deflected off a Dynamo player in the box.
Houston defender Geoff Cameron made his fifth consecutive start and sixth of the season in central defense. It was the versatile Cameron’s 100th career MLS game, coming in his fourth season. A third-round draft pick in 2008, the 26-year-old is the seventh player in Dynamo history to play 100 MLS games for the club.
Rookie forward Will Bruin came on as a substitute in the 81st minute to make his 24th MLS appearance of the season, setting a new club rookie record. Bruin had been tied with Geoff Cameron, who appeared in 23 of 30 games in 2008.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall tied an MLS record with his 33rd start of the season and is now tied for the league’s single-season record with 2,970 minutes played, sharing the league lead with Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Three other players, including two goalkeepers, have a chance to play every minute this season. The 2011 MLS regular season consists of 34 games per team for the first time in league history.
In other milestones, midfielder Brad Davis played in his 255th career MLS game, defender Corey Ashe made his 165th appearance for the Dynamo in all competitions and the 75th start of his MLS career, and defender Andre Hainault also made his 75th career MLS start.
The Dynamo played without forward Cam Weaver (right hip surgery) and started without forward Brian Ching (right adductor strain), although Ching was available on the bench.
Reserve League Match: Houston Dynamo Reserves at Sporting Kansas City Reserves, Tuesday, October 18, 10 a.m., Swope Park training center, Kansas City, MO
Next Match: Sunday, October 23, 6 p.m., Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy, Robertson Stadium