HOUSTON – On an Adam Moffat bomb, the Houston Dynamo laid claim to El Capitan for the second straight year with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas in the seventh edition of the Texas Derby Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Besides claiming the Derby spoils, Moffat’s winner extends Dallas’ winless streak to 10, with seven losses in that span of games, while propelling Houston to 3-0-1 record at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Moffat’s winner came after the game - which had several moments of beautiful play, mostly from the feet of FCD's Jackson - took an ugly turn. In the 63rd minute Dallas left back Jair Benitez elbowed Colin Clark to draw straight red from Jair Marrufo, his third red against Houston in three years. After the decision the sides exchanged shoves and a few headlocks but escaped without further punishment.
That turned a chippy game feisty, and gave the Dynamo they advantage they needed to get back on the front foot. They got it with Moffat's goal, which the Scotsman roofed after Kevin Hartman flapped at a Brad Davis corner kick. Dallas nearly produced a grandstand finish despite playing with 10, forcing Dynamo 'keeper Tally Hall into a series of big plays down the stretch.
The match began with fireworks of a different sort as Houston striker Will Bruin converted a friendly bounce into a goal in just the third minute. Dallas defender Hernan Pertuz’ attempted clear of a Calen Carr cross found Bruin’s knee and the deflection beat Hartman to the near post for the 1-0 lead.
Rather than wilt, Dallas dug in. Largely through the play of Jackson and Fabian Castillo, they put Houston under pressure for the rest of the half and the start of the second. With Hall standing strong it looked like FCD would never find the equalizer, but it came in the 59th minute - and in appropriate fashion, with Jackson firing home a fortunate carom after some sterling build-up play.
After Jackson’s equalizer Houston found fortune with Benitez’s ejection and immediately attempted to exploit their advantage when Brian Ching and Bruin both took their chances in the 65th minute. Ching, who spurned multiple chances on the night, saw his volley parried down by Hartman. Bruin, following up on the play, tried to complete his brace but saw Jackson clear his smash from four yards off the line.
When they weren't fluffing clear chances, Houston were usually running into imposing Dallas rookie Matt Hedges, who steered the backline with Ugo Ihemelu and George john out. Hedges had perhaps has best game as a pro despite the scoreline.
Eventually Houston (5-4-4) would take Moffat’s winner to the bank, and jump into the playoff hunt on 19 points - good for fifth in the East - in the process.
Dallas, meanwhile, remain on 13 points and will host Chivas USA on Saturday, June 23 at 8 p.m. at FC Dallas Stadium.