The Houston Dynamo season opened with not a whimper, but a bang last Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
A record setting crowd of 22,320 orange fanatics filled the stadium seats. Looking to silence critics and ignite the crowd forward Will Bruin knocked a scorcher into the far corner of the goal just 64 seconds into the match and past New England Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Within the half, he would collect a brace. Coupled with Boniek Garcia’s well-timed rocket, the 3-0 score went largely unanswered for the majority of the game. Omar Cummings would add his own bravado to the scoreboard in extra time on a deflection from Ricardo Clark’s shot.
To contrast with New England’s harried defense, the Houston Dynamo back line sparkled with show room glitz. This came as a welcome relief from the lingering questions about our center back position.
Late in 2013’s season, the loss of injured veteran Jermaine Taylor sent Houston fans into a tailspin of anxiety. Would our postseason aspirations dash upon the rocks of the roster? Who could step up to fill the void? Unlike our stable of midfielders, we had few defensive options. The former Portland Timbers center back Eric Brunner stepped into the void, leaving little wanting during our playoffs bid.
As the season concluded, the question of our back line grew even murkier. Veteran and frequent captain Bobby Boswell was acquired via re-entry draft by his former team, D.C. United.
To answer, the Dynamo expanded their defensive options during the draft. David Horst and rookie AJ Cochran were added to the fold. Horst, acquired from Portland Timbers, (chum and former teammate of Brunner) spent much of last season recovering from an injury. He often had sterling performances with the Timbers, when healthy. Aside from composure, perhaps Horst’s greatest attribute was his ability in the air. An impressive 6’4, "Big Dave" Horst boasts an uncanny ability to beat forwards to a header. AJ Cochran, a Generation Adidas player, garnered many awards during his collegiate play. Left footed Cochran was named Big Ten Defender of the year and played three seasons with Wisconsin.
The 2014 preseason brought good tidings. A recovering Jermaine Taylor took up his old position, leaving only Boswell’s spot in question. Head Coach Dominic Kinnear rotated many defenders during the preseason scrimmages, testing his options.
Only weeks before Saturday’s season opener, Brunner received an injury that turned the spotlight on David Horst. Horst started last night’s game against the New England Revolution.
Horst did not disappoint. After an initial setback with two failures to clear the ball on the back line, Horst fell right into place. He had several impressive saves during the night, including shutting down a run on Tally Hall by acclaimed wunderkind Diego Fagundez. Many times during the night, Horst displayed his reputed talent in the air, winning header after header. His size may also prove valuable in Dynamo set pieces, where Horst shook things up in front of the opposing goal.
Is it too early to say that Horst will fill the hole left by Boswell? With a performance like last night, I hope not.