Halfway there. The Houston Dynamo got through last night's first leg against Santos Laguna in relatively good fashion, and will be able to take a slim 1-0 lead down to Torreón next week.
On the surface, it's a solid result. The Dynamo remain unbeaten at BBVA Compass in all meaningful matches, and that home winning stream now stands at 32 in all competitions. The Dynamo defended Fortress BBVA Tuesday night, which is a good place to start.
Even better (in my opinion), they did so with what was pretty much their opening night XI (save for Warren Creavalle in place of Brad Davis) - proof that Dom and the front office are taking this tournament seriously. And it showed. Santos may not be near the top of the Liga MX table right now, but they have consistently shredded MLS sides. And yet, the Dynamo defense - even though they still didn't look to be in midseason form - did a fairly good job of keeping Santos' weapons in check.
It would've been a scoreless draw save for the actions of an unlikely substitute. While Davis found himself out of the starting XI, he was substituted in for Creavalle at the half. With time running out in the 89th minute, Corey Ashe found Davis open in the box, and the midfield maestro put his shot through traffic and in the lower corner of the net.
This was a match of missed chances on both sides, though. An 18th minute header by Bobby Boswell was stopped only by the unfortunate positioning of Creavalle right on the line. A bad clearance by Tally Hall gave the ball away to a lonely Hercules Gomez near the top of the box, but he chose to slide the ball over to Carlos Quintero, who fired over the crossbar. In the 22nd, Santos keeper Oswaldo Sánchez made his own risky clearance - he came out to meet a dangerous ball in the path of Will Bruin, only to be caught out when his clearance fell to Giles Barnes - unfortunately, Barnes' chip attempt went just high. In the 40th, only a last ditch clearance by Kofi Sarkodie save the day - and all of these were just in the first half. I lost count of the number of shots by open Dynamo and Santos players that seemed to go nowhere but right to the keepers.
You have to wonder, though, if those missed chances will come back to haunt either team. The Dynamo got away with a slim lead, but there could have very easily been several goals in the bank for both sides. The clean sheet at home means that any away goal in Torreón will give the Dynamo all the momentum. On the other side of things, any MLS fan will remember that Santos Laguna not only reached the CONCACAF Champions League finals last season, they did so by running roughshod over the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC (both ties finished 7-3, with Santos notching a 6-1 home victory over Seattle and a 6-2 home victory over Toronto).
Any chance for advancement by the Dynamo likely rests on getting at least one goal in Torreón next Wednesday. That's a tall task, but it can be done. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not this match of missed chances will end up spelling doom for the Dynamo or be the team's savior. There's 90 minutes left and everything to play for.