To put it simply, this match was really fun. Occupying Fuzion's fantastic seats right behind the corner flag, I took in a match that was eventful for reasons (thank goodness) other than Clint Dempsey's return to Texas.
As Deuce left the pitch from warm-ups, the Texan audience applauded one of their own. Once the opening whistle blew, he might as well have been a stranger. For the next 90 minutes, Clint Dempsey was hassled and harried by Dynamo defenders and the fans of the Dynamo. And, aside from a couple half-chances outside the box, Houston did well to ensure that his first mark on a match would not be here.
Instead, it was the Dynamo that provided the fireworks today.
It all started in the 15th minute, when Will Bruin slalomed into the box. With a couple lucky bounces, he found himself one-on-one with Gspurning. And, with the goal at his mercy, Will shot wide. Excruciatingly, so.
I have to admit, when he missed I had my narrative ready: "despite the confidence and hunger he developed in USMNT camp, Bruin had developed some rust that has been apparent for a couple weeks".
As if hearing my doubt, the Dancing Bear responded quickly.
With some quick touches inside the box, Will freed up Barnes for the opener. It was a sublime bit of play to make up for his initial miss. Bruin drove to the endline and dragged the ball back for the former Derby player. Receiving tha ball in stride, Barnes took a touch, then another, before blasting the ball into the far corner.
Before the Dynamo faithful could settle down, Barnes struck again.
This time it was all his own making. Barnes collected the ball from Davis about 40 yards out. Taking a touch into space, he unleashed a hellish shot into the left upper-90 that sent the crowd into hysteria.
2-0 Dynamo heading into halftime.
With the second half underway, Dempsey was once again reminded that his warm welcome was over, as Ashe bundled him over for a foul about 30 seconds into the half.
Other than that initial excitement, the beginning of the second half was one of caution and trepidation. Both sides were happy to send speculative balls into the box, but no one was willing to risk throwing too many men forward.
The breakthrough would come through both fortune and the help of a very hesitant linesman.
Brad Davis bundled over DeAndre Yedlin on the endline, just hitting the defender before knocking the ball out of bounds. The linesman, apparently missing the initial foul, left his flag down. However, the head ref called the foul, leaving Brad dumbfounded. It would turn out to be an important one, as Burch's out-swinging cross met Shalrie Joseph who headed home Seattle's first goal. The crowd boo'ed the goal and the linesman's hesitancy, but it would count for little more than self-satisfaction.
The next ten minutes were nerve-racking, as Seattle pushed for the equalizer. Corner after corner were headed away by the Dynamo, effectively raising my blood pressure to hypertensive levels. My cardiologist could probably see the dollar signs with each Evans' in-swinger.
However, instead of Seattle equalizing, it was the Dynamo who would strike the decisive blow.
After Weaver was subbed on for Barnes, the Dynamo built up down the right side. Boniek's cross was met by Creavalle, who headed the ball onto the bar. As the crowd groaned, Davis met the ball and nodded it back to Bruin. Letting it fall over his back, Bruin swung his foot around and volleyed it past Gspurning for a goal.
The security was well-earned, and a deflated Seattle could offer little moving forward.
In the end, it was the Dynamo who celebrated this victory, leaving Seattle wondering what could have been.
Houston will return Tuesday for their CONCACAF Champions League opener at W. Connection before returning to MLS action against Montreal at Stade Saputo on the weekend.