Reading through everything that came out of the Houston Dynamo victory against Vancouver, one might get the idea that with one simple win, the fortunes of the men in orange were completely turned around. Regrettably, I don't think that's the case. Was last Saturday's triumph a salve for the wounds opened over the previous two matches? Undoubtedly. Was it an all-curing elixir that magically made all of the Dynamo's problems disappear? Far from it.
Nobody is going to sit around and deny that it was a good win. I don't think any of us would deny the three points that came with it were sorely needed and much deserved. But yet, for the same reasons we cautioned against panic last week, I again urge you not to read too much into a single victory. Beating the Whitecaps was good, but it was simply another step on that long journey to the promised land.
While substitutes such as Andrew Driver, Warren Creavalle and Eric Brunner performed quite admirably against Vancouver, Houston's three internationals will be back in the fold, with Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Jermaine Taylor back for duty as of Thursday. Also a possible starter is Omar Cummings, who made his Dynamo debut in the closing minutes Saturday night - meaning that Will Bruin may finally have the striking partner we thought he'd be getting when Cummings came to town. All these signs point to the idea that good things might be on the horizon.
The next step to those good things looms ahead of the Dynamo in the form of Saturday night's clash against the San Jose Earthquakes. This is a side that I (and probably a lot of you) feel somewhat connected to, as the original incarnation of this franchise now occupies BBVA Compass Stadium. Indeed, several players on the roster (Brian Ching, Brad Davis and Ricardo Clark) were with the Dynamo while the team was still in the Bay Area, and Dominic Kinnear was the last coach they had, as well. You would think that such a history would be the basis for a rivalry, but one has yet to show up (for whatever reasons that may be).
The Quakes, under the leadership of Frank Yallop (Kinnear's mentor), claimed the Supporters Shield last season en route to an early playoff exit at the hands of the LA Galaxy. They've managed seven points out of their first four matches, and will come into Houston sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference. They may have stumbled early, but they've picked up steam the last few weeks. More importantly for them, Chris Wondolowski, fresh off of a record-tying 27 goal campaign, has appeared to pick up where he left off - two of the Quakes' four goals have come off of his feet.
While the Dynamo's backline appeared better last week (and let's face it - Darren Mattocks wasn't going to be denied by anyone on that phenomenal strike), they'll face another tough task in containing Wondo. As has been noted elsewhere, Wondo has never scored against the team that drafted him eight years ago - astounding, considering how often he's scored on most everybody else. Call it whatever you like, but for some reason, he's been relatively harmless against Houston.
I'm not holding tight to any statistics, though. Sooner or later, Wondo will score against the Dynamo - the best we can hope for is that it won't come Saturday. The Quakes have plenty of other offensive weapons - their 72 goals scored last season is testament to that - but if the Dynamo can make somebody other than Chris Wondolowski beat them (which is no easy task, granted), Houston's chase of history gets that much easier.
I'm not going to sit here and say it'll be easy - I'm sure everybody is familiar with that particular mantra of mine by now - but I will say that if the Dynamo play like they did last Saturday, it'll take a massive effort to beat them. The Earthquakes could probably produce such an effort, but only time will tell whether or not they succeed in doing so.