At halftime of the showdown between the hometown Houston Dynamo and the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps, the hosts faced the prospect of seeing a 32-game unbeaten streak at BBVA Compass Stadium fall by the wayside. But with two second-half goals Houston managed to reverse the result, keep the streak alive and send Vancouver back to British Columbia without a point to show for their efforts.
That the Dynamo were ever in danger of losing at home is a testament to two Whitecaps: goalkeeper Joe Cannon and striker Darren Mattocks. Cannon continually stymied the Dynamo attack in the first half, keeping a clean sheet into the intermission. He denied Ricardo Clark a quarter-hour into the match and Giles Barnes twenty minutes in, allowing his Vancouver teammates time to start spreading out the Houston defense with their speed.
It all paid off in the 36th minute for the Whitecaps. Darren Mattocks, the 23-year-old Jamaican who was a preseason sensation but had been kept off the score sheet in Vancouver’s first two matches, finally opened his 2013 account properly with a sensational strike. As Erik Hurtado fed Mattocks the ball, the striker turned on Dynamo back Eric Brunner (who was only starting due to Jermaine Taylor’s absence for international duty), stumbled, regained his balance and unleashed a heavy right-footed shot from 22 yards out that launched itself into the upper-right corner past the hopelessly outstretched fingertips of Houston keeper Tally Hall.
Mattocks nearly had a second goal on several occasions once the teams returned from the locker rooms after intermission, but both times Hall was ready. Instead the Dynamo continued to press upfield, taking advantage of Vancouver’s speed to catch them on the counterattack. They finally leveled the match in the 55th minute thanks to a well-developed play off a throw-in. Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin worked the ball around with Clark, finally finding the latter enough space to chip in a cross toward goal. From point-blank range, Barnes rose to meet the ball and redirect it against the grain past a wrong-footed Cannon.
A draw would be enough to keep the streak alive, but Houston continued hunting for a winner. The Dynamo earned a corner kick just after the hour mark. Adam Moffat whipped the cross in to the goal area, and a scrum ensued. Emerging with the ball was Warren Creavalle, a second-round pick in last year’s SuperDraft, who potted the first goal of his MLS career. It almost didn’t hold up as the game winner, but Hall was saved by both posts as substitute striker Camilo Sanvezzo caromed a free kick across the goalmouth but not across the line in the 82nd minute. On the ensuing corner kick, Hall snubbed out another chance by Mattocks, and the Dynamo not only held on to their unbeaten streak at home but extended it to 33 games with a stylish come-from-behind victory that benefitted from a little kiss of kismet.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS @ HOUSTON DYNAMO
BBVA Compass Stadium
March 23, 2013
- 36′ — VAN/Darren Mattocks (Erik Hurtado)
- 55′ — HOU/Giles Barnes (Ricardo Clark)
- 62′ — HOU/Warren Creavalle (Will Bruin, Adam Moffat)
- HOU (4-4-1-1): Tally Hall; Corey Ashe, Eric Brunner, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Sarkodie; Andrew Driver, Ricardo Clark, Adam Moffat, Warren Creavalle (Omar Cummings/89′); Giles Barnes (Luiz Camargo/81′); Will Bruin (Cam Weaver/79′)
- VAN (4-3-2-1): Joe Cannon; Alain Rochat, Brad Rusin, Andy O’Brien (Corey Hertzog/89′), Lee Young-Pyo; Gershon Koffie (Kekuta Manneh/79′), Jun Marques Davidson, Nigel Reo-Coker; Daigo Kobayashi, Erik Hurtado (Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo/71′); Darren Mattocks