HOUSTON - JULY 09: Geoff Cameron #20 of the Houston Dynamo puts back a rebound over goalkeeper Stefan Frei #24 of Toronto FC for a goal in the 81st minute as Andre Hainault #31 of the Dynamo celebrates at Robertson Stadium on July 9, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Three points is three points in the asininely parity controlled 2011 MLS Eastern Conference. Doesn't matter who you're beating, especially at home, considering how close all the teams are and the likelihood that the three automatic playoff spots are going to be the only teams from the East going to the playoffs.
Despite no road wins, the Dynamo are back in fourth place, four points behind the Columbus Crew for third and only five points out of first. In turn, I'm pleased about the win but I'm not going to get too excited considering it was against Toronto FC who only seem able to beat Vancouver of late.
I'm not trying to be overly pessimistic but upon further review of Saturday's victory, the result had a lot more to do with Toronto's inability (or unwillingness) to attack and less to do with Houston's offensive prowess. Sure they scored two goals but let's not kid ourselves, the Dynamo didn't covert on the vast majority of chances and really should have match the Red Bulls by putting five goals past TFC.
"I was happy we won. It took us a while to get a goal." Coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We had some decent chances in the first half. I felt if we could score the first goal, we would win the game because they weren't pushing much forward, and defensively we were very solid tonight. I thought if we got a goal it could be enough, and thankfully it was."
Still, it's a good result and it's a sign that this team still has some life. The defense continues to improve with Jermaine Taylor and Kofi Sarkodie quickly putting strangleholds on a starting positions and Andrew Hainault continuing to impress. Corey Ashe is still not a fullback and a few shaky moments on Saturday showed that, but that doesn't mean he's not doing his job.
"It's always good when you get no goals against," Kinnear said. "We made a few mistakes, but we covered up for it. Tally gave a lot of credit to his back four for making his job easier than it had to be."
More importantly, I think the midfield combination of Cameron and Watson is improving and baring trialist Daniel Cruz making a splash or a big transfer window signing, this is the way to go. Danny Cruz also had a great game, finally getting his first goal of 2011 and running his ass off like usual. The engine that kid has is unbelievable and his ball skills get better with the more playing time he gets.
There's plenty to be positive about and it sets the stage for next weekend's match against Sporting Kansas City, a team that should provide a much greater test. I'm looking for consistency from the Dynamo, something we've been waiting to see for two plus seasons and the added pressure of this being another vital conference match should help keep the team focused and hungry.
It was nice to the see positive but realistic reaction from the team after match. They realize there is still work to be done, but you got the feeling they viewed this win over Toronto as the starting point of something rather than another momentary upswing. Hopefully that's the case but we'll have to wait until next weekend to know for sure.
"We know we have a long, long, long way to go." Ashe said after the match. "We can celebrate now, but come tomorrow and the next day, it's back to work. We need to climb the ladder. We have some home game that we need to start utilizing. Ties are good, but they're not great. Especially since we're at home, we need three points."
Once again, the team is saying all the right things and two straight clean sheets point to the fact they starting to do the right things on the pitch.