I haven't been here very long, but I've already decided that these are a lot more fun to write after a win. Especially a much needed win. It was tough to watch at times, and I won't lie and say I wasn't nervous about it, but in the end we got the result we wanted. It may not have been the prettiest of matches, but it's three points that the team desperately needed.
Before I get any further, I'd like to take a moment to commend the fans who, unlike me, were actually able to make the trip to BBVA Compass Stadium to cheer on the Dynamo in person. I'm sure it's very good for the team to know that no matter what the forecast brings, the fans will still make it out to cheer for the men in orange. Personally, I just hope that next time, I can be one of them - even if I get completely soaked.
Anyway, on to the match. Everybody knew coming in that this was a match that the Houston Dynamo needed to win, and everyone knew that even though they're near the bottom of the conference, the New England Revolution were not going to make it easy. To add even more pressure, Columbus won their match (which started earlier), which meant that the Dynamo needed the full three points to stay in the final playoff spot in the East.
As certain people predicted, the Dynamo returned to a 4-4-2 formation for this one. It started out sluggish, but that was probably due more to the rain than anything else. There were hints and flashes of what we had wanted to see in the first half, but though the Dynamo had a distinct edge in possession (almost 70-30 in the first half, if I remember correctly), it was the Rvs who seemed to have all the chances. Tally Hall made a brilliant save on a Benny Feilhaber free kick in the 18th, and Jermaine Taylor made a magnificent stop to deny Jerry Bengtson in the 31st - the only real chances either side had (save for perhaps a Ricardo Clark shot that was off target later in the half).
The second half started out much the same as the first, with tempers on both sides flaring about an hour in, when extra-curricular activity prior to a Revs free kick resulted in yellows for both Will Bruin and Dimitry Imbongo Boele. It looked like the players (and the fans) would be in for another long half, but the substitution of Brian Ching for Calen Carr a few minutes later seemed to give the Dynamo new life.
As the match wore on, it became clear (at least to me) that the Dynamo were starting to really wear down the Revs, culminating in what I might have to dub the "Old Guard Goal" - a beautiful bit of play in the 77th minute between Brian Ching, Brad Davis and Ricardo Clark that resulted in Clark's first goal since returning to the Dynamo.
For a few seconds, it was like we had gone back in time a few years, and my heart started to lift at that prospect. However, the match wasn't over yet. Rico's goal seemed to wake the Dynamo up, and they continued to press and create chances - but to their credit, the Revs didn't back down. The match was still in doubt, and personally (especially after the SKC match), I wasn't sure the Dynamo had snatched three points until the very end, when rookie substitute Warren Creavalle alertly sent a cross into the box that Boniek Garcia put in goal to seal it in the 93rd minute.
All things said and done, I can truly say that though this wasn't the prettiest of matches - in the rain, the beautiful game is rarely beautiful - I'm happy with how it turned out, and not just because we got the win (though that does play a huge role in it). Last week, for whatever reason, the Dynamo seemed to lack the passion and fire they'd shown so often this season, and the result was an embarrassment that we all would love to erase from the record.
Tonight, however, it was different. The rain slowed them down a bit, but they did show some fight, and for once, they were able to beat a side which they should have beaten. To their credit, the Revolution fought well (and as I mentioned in the game thread, I do have to give massive props to their keeper, Bobby Shuttleworth, who ended up on the losing end of what I thought was a spectacular effort on his part) - but in the end, they couldn't weather the tide, and the Dynamo were able to translate that into three points.
Not a bad night's work, especially in a downpour. Now, we just have to hope that this win can give them the spark they need to launch a run into the playoffs.