It wasn't a beautiful 90 minutes, but it was a solid first half combined with a nice response in the second half that gave the Houston Dynamo a much needed 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. Goals from Brad Davis and Brian Ching (sure it was a PK but at last he scored at BBVA Compass Stadium) led Houston to the three points.
New designated player Boniek Garcia debuted for the Dynamo, getting the start and going the full 90 minutes. He was lively, active, creative, but as you would expect, looked a bit out of sync with his teammates. That's not a big deal, as training and match time will solve that. What's important is that Boniek gave Houston width and helped spread out the Union defense because they had to worry about wing speed and creativity on both sides of the pitch, rather than just on the left from Davis. Lots to be excited about from Boniek.
The defense was better, not great, but better. The goal was down to giving Keon Daniel way too much space, but it happens. What concerned me was several communication breakdowns between defenders and Tally Hall in the first half. Fortunately, the Union didn't really start attacking until the second half so they didn't pounce on the mistakes. Bobby Boswell made some nice tackles and Jermaine Taylor was solid in his return from injury.
So it's a win, a much needed win that saw the Dynamo play a 4-3-3 and look creative and dangerous. I'd venture to say we haven't see so much midfield creativity since Stuart Holden and De Ro left. That's a good thing and considering Boniek has only had a week to get to know the team, it's only going to get better. Lots to be excited about.
As for Andre Hainault, he really needs to be playing inside. He's a great player, he's tremendous in the air of set pieces, but he's not a fullback. The question becomes if Cameron leaves, does Hainault stay outside or will Kofi Sarkodie finally get a chance (he's almost healthy). If Sarkodie is the long-term plan at right back it's time for him to get playing time, which leaves you with a plethora of central defenders. I'll leave it at that for now, check out my Monday Morning Centre Back post for more on this situation.
Another big bonus, Brian Ching finally scored. He earned the PK (it was a little soft but we'll take it) and scored it. The weight of the goalless streak is off the captain's back and I'm sure he'll be all the better for it. Ching has been awesome off the ball this season but just hadn't connected, maybe getting the first will help open things up more for him.
Lots to like from the game, there are still some defensive issues but we'll see how things play out. Quick turnaround for the Dynamo as the Chicago Fire are in town Tuesday for another important Eastern Conference match. No rest for the weary.