Houston opens season with hard-fought tie

Chabala strike canceled out by Dallas minutes later

Brad Davis, Houston

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An impressive
strike by Mike Chabala was canceled out by an equally impressive one by Atiba Harris
as the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas started their seasons with a 1-1 tie.  

Houston coach
Dominic Kinnear had some interesting lineup decisions to make before the game. Geoff
Cameron and Richard Mulrooney were given an opportunity to fill in the center of
midfield, while Andrew Hainault started at right back. During preseason those positions
were somewhat up in the air, but the decision to make Brian Ching captain after
Wade Barrett’s retirement probably didn’t surprise many.

Houston had the
better scoring opportunities early on. In the 21st minute, midfielder
Brad Davis lined up a shot from distance that missed narrowly. In the 30th
minute, Dominic Oduro should have put Houston ahead as Cameron found Ching, who
headed to Oduro behind the FC Dallas defense and in on goal. Oduro was stoned by
Dallas ‘keeper Dario Sala one on one.

While no one
is going to confuse Geoff Cameron with Ronaldinho, the young midfielder did well
in the first game of 2010. Cameron came close to scoring in the 35th
minute with a blast from thirty yards out, and he had several good runs and passes.

However, Houston
got the first goal in the 36th minute. Davis found Oduro on the left
hand side. As Oduro controlled the ball, his man—and the man covering defender Chabala,
who was making a run in support—collided and Chabala ran in on goal. As the Dallas
center backs slid over to try and cut off Chabala, before they got into position,
Chabala shot with his right foot and beat Sala to give Houston the lead.

The lead was
short lived, though, as Harris responded for Dallas in the 38th minute.
The ball was played behind Andrew Hainault and into the path of Harris. As Bobby
Boswell slid over to cut off Harris, Harris cut in towards the top of the box. Hainault
didn’t anticipate the cutback and Harris sharply hit the ball past Pat Onstad and
into the corner of the leveling Dynamo goal.

If the equalizer
wasn’t bad enough, Eddie Robinson left the game injured in the 42nd minute.
It was hard to tell exactly how—or more importantly how severely—he was injured,
but Ryan Cochrane replaced Robinson as the feisty first half ended knotted at one.

FC Dallas had
several opportunities to score early in the second half. Heath Pearce narrowly missed
with a shot from distance, McCarty had a header off a set piece and Jeff Cunningham
had a plethora of chances.

In the 63rd
minute, Cunningham netted what had looked like the go-ahead goal, but the linesman
correctly ruled the effort offside. In the 69th minute though, Cunningham
broke free behind the Dynamo defense and missed narrowly wide. Moments later, Cunningham
again missed just wide. The league’s leading scorer last year missed yet again in
the 75th minute, blasting his effort high. The Dynamo defense were lucky
not have conceded on at least one of those efforts.

Houston started
to regain control of the ball in the last twenty minutes of the second half with
their best effort coming to Luis Angel Landin. In the 85th minute, defender
Hainault sent a cross to the far post, but Landin was closer to the center of the
goal. As Landin drifted over to the cross, he couldn’t get adequately over the ball
as his header sailed high.

The final whistle
blew shortly thereafter and Houston and Dallas split the honors. An appropriate
result as both sides missed several quality chances. Houston’s next game comes quickly
as Real Salt Lake travel to Houston for a Thursday evening match at Robertson Stadium.

Watch match highlights HERE.