The Houston Dynamo challenged Barclay's Premier League side Aston Villa to their Dynamo Charities Cup match and fell to a lone goal by Aston Villa scored by Joe Bennett in the '41 minute.
Aston Villa was wrapping up their series of two friendlies in the United States after beating FC Dallas on Wednesday, July 23 2-0. They hopped on a quick flight down to Houston to take on the Dynamo in BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night.
The Dynamo ran a strong lineup for the match, starting Tyler Deric, Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe, Boniek Garcia, Servando Carrasco, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Giles Barnes, and Will Bruin. Tally Hall was available, but was unused in the game. The Dynamo started the match with a great opening 30 minutes. They were possessing the ball in midfield and making smart passing decisions which led to a few chances. Brad Davis showed that he could easily hang with the EPL players and was able to draw fouls and provide excellent set piece delivery which almost turned into an early Dynamo goal.
Aston Villa started to settle down except for an atrocious foul that Chris Herd committed against Boniek in '38. Herd made an extremely late challenge and made a dangerous dive for the ball that resulted in a hard foul. It was clear to me that the foul endangered Boniek, but being a friendly, the referee only presented a yellow Herd.
Boniek in particular looked great during the match winning balls defensively several times and putting his next-level dribbling skills on display.
The momentum clearly swung to Villa as Bennett would score off a header in the '41 to give Villa a 1-0 lead. It wasn't a great header as much as it was shoddy defense by the back line. Bennett was unmarked and had an unchallenged go at the header while four Dynamo players were within 15 yards marking nobody.
The 45' - '60 were mostly all Villa with the Dynamo not able to hold the ball. The Houston defense did play well though and Villa weren't able to come up with anything too threatening to Deric. Almost the entire Houston bench warmed up starting just after the 50' and while DaMarcus Beasley was available to sub in, his number was not called unfortunately. His Dynamo debut will come in a different match.
The first two subs were Andrew Driver in for Brad Davis and Omar Cummings in for Barnes in the '64. Four more subs came in the '72 with Alex Lopez replacing Clark, AJ Cochran replacing Ashe, Jason Johnson replacing Bruin, and Brian Ownby replacing Boniek.
The Dynamo would come to threaten several times in the last 20 minutes with a team almost entirely made up of 'B-Squad' players who completely held their own against Villa. There was definitely some extra motivation as we are currently in the transfer window, and anybody on the field could find themselves traded. The two Jamaican forwards, Jason Johnson and Omar Cummings played nicely off each other and combined well with Driver to put some threats against the Villa defense.
Maligned fan frustration Alex Lopez looked good on the field as well and made several excellent passes. It will continue to be hard for him to find first team playing minutes, so it was important for him to show well in the 20 he did play in tonight.
The two things I questioned from Saturday night were why did Carrasco get 90 minutes. He had some moments where he looked really poor defensively. Villa were dribbling through like no one was there. Give me 90 minutes of Lopez! The other disappointment was no DaMarcus Beasley appearance. It's a friendly with an unlimited number of substitutions, so why not throw him in and get the crowd fired up? No point in putting him on the bench if he is the only real sub not to be used (Tally Hall was just getting the night off and was in there in case of an emergency). The only thing I can think of is that DMB was asked in his press conference if he would be available for Saturday and he said he would be. Dominic Kinnear not putting him on the bench would draw some questions.
Overall, you have to feel good about the Dynamo performance on Saturday. They got to play against a world-class club from England, and really held their own. While they didn't win or even tie, the Villa boys have to be thinking that American soccer is looking up, even if the pay is a fraction of English salaries.
The next Dynamo match is home versus DC United on Sunday, Aug 3 at 7 p.m.