Houston opened the match in a familiar 4-4-2, with Moffat replacing the ill (as in sick, not cool) Rico Clark. While some fans thought newly-acquired Alex would get his first start, it was the Scotsman who manned the midfield alongside OBG.
The match started quickly, with the first chance coming to the Dynamo out of nowhere. A long ball up the field was misjudged by the Montreal defense, allowing Bruin to lob the ball over Perkins' head. However, Will misjudged the ball as it came back down to his feet. Whiffing the initial shot, Montreal was given enough time to recover and see the ball out for a corner. It was a chance the Bruin needed to score, and would prove to be his best chance to shake off a little of the rust he's built up recently.
Moments later, Mapp created the first Montreal chance. He collected the ball out wide and beat Ashe inside before unleashing a strike that just caught underside of the crossbar. The ball ricocheted down and was cleared by the Dynamo defense.
Things didn't slow down from there, as Barnes sent a volley high from the penalty spot just high, and Boniek saw his cross deflected just wide of the goal.
Tempers erupted in the 24th minute, as Bernardello elbowed Brad in the face, then kicked out at Moffat. Moffat, not happy being kicked in the thigh (right there with you buddy), quickly reacted and shoved the Italian. The teams converged on the two players, and got their Westside Story on, before being separated by the ref. No cards were given, but I would bet that the Disciplinary Committee might take a long look at Bernardello and Moffat for this one.
As the pressure built, it would be the Di Vaio who broke the deadlock. Collecting a ball out wide from Mapp, the Italian cut inside of Ashe before placing the ball perfectly in the far corner. Hall had no chance, and it would appear to be a justified lead for the team that saw two Mapp chances go wanting earlier in the match.
Without a moment to even breathe, Montreal struck again. Di Vaio and Mapp exchanged passes on the right, before Mapp sent a lofted ball across the box to Felipe. He shifted the ball to his right foot before placing the ball perfectly inside the far post. 2-0.
The two goals were the product of soft defending by the fullbacks, and lazy tracking back by the Dynamo midfield. I would blame it on the mid-week trip if Montreal hadn't played a day after Houston.
Halftime came perhaps 10 minutes too late, as Houston limped into the break. They would count themselves lucky not to be down by more, and to have 45 minutes to respond accordingly.
The second half started with Brunner introduced in the place of Jermaine Taylor, who exited with a reported ankle injury. Houston started out on the front foot, and almost got one back in the 47th minute. A long cross from Ashe was met by Bruin, who would've had a goal if Perkins didn't have hands of steel. Off the ensuing corner, Boswell sent a header just over the bar. It was a promising start for the Dynamo.
Beaten twice earlier in the match, Hall would show his importance in the 50th minute, coming up with two huge saves on a Montreal attack. Despite the earlier offensive promise by Houston, the defense still looked shaky, and gave Montreal plenty of space to attack the goal.
Hall's heroics were overcome minutes later as Montreal took a 3-0 lead. Brunner did well to see out a Di Vaio attack, but the ensuing corner would find Brovsky for an easy tap in.
After Alex subbed into the match, Di Vaio made it 4-0. Bernier found space behind the Dynamo backline before laying a ball off for the Italian to finish.
Jason Johnson entered the game for Driver in the 80th minute in the hopes of injecting some life into the Dynamo attack. While his enthusiasm was appreciated, his attempts at mirroring Di Vaio's brilliance were underwhelming at best.
The last ten minutes played out like the previous 80 for Houston, as half-hearted attack was followed by off-target pass. Barnes did manage to force one save from Perkins, but that was it from Houston.
Making matters worse, Pisanu beat Hall in stoppage time to make it 5-0 Montreal. I would tell you more about it, but I was blinded by tears and shame.
Final score: 5-0.
Houston will host Arabe Unido in a must-win CCL match at mid-week before continuing their Eastern Conference road trip at Columbus and NYRB. They would do well to remember that games in hand are only valuable if get points from them.
If your soul is sad (mine is), here's a song of a hedgehog to make you feel a little better: