Despite playing a man down for nearly twenty minutes, FC Dallas defeated the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, off a Ugo Ihemelu goal to earn their first win of the season and their first-ever win at Houston’s Robertson Stadium on Wednesday night.
Houston went with an identical starting lineup to the one they used on the weekend, but Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman made two major changes to his side, handing goalkeeper Kevin Hartman his second MLS start for the club and placing rookie Zach Loyd at right back. Heath Pearce moved up to midfield and Atiba Harris replaced forward Jeff Cunningham, who was left out after suffering a minor injury in practice yesterday.
The moves paid early dividends for FCD. Hartman made a smart play in the 7th minute to come off his line and clear a ball headed for Dynamo forward Luis Landín. The veteran stopper made another save in the 10th minute off Dominic Oduro from a breakaway.
FCD’s best two chances in the first half came less than a minute apart. In the 17th minute, Daniel Hernandez ripped a free kick directly at Pat Onstad, but the pace on the shot forced Onstad to punch the ball out. Moments later, Harris blasted another shot from distance, but Onstad again punched the effort wide.
In the 37th minute, the Dynamo suffered what looked to be another major injury blow. Defender Eddie Robinson jumped to clear a header, but as he landed, his right knee seemed to lock and he instantly went down in pain. Houston replaced Robinson with Ryan Cochrane.
Both teams struggled offensively for the first two-thirds of the match, but the game opened up as the teams wore down. In the 65th minute, a turnover by FCD defender Ihemelu led to a quick Houston counter. Landín found midfielder Brad Davis open ten yards from goal, but as Davis moved the ball to his preferred left foot, Pearce made a terrific block on Davis’ effort.
FCD were reduced to 10 men in the 72nd minute after defender Benitez was judged to have elbowed Landín. Houston, however, were unable to capitalize on the advantage and Dallas made them pay minutes later by taking the lead off a set piece. Dax McCarty sent in a free kick to the far post, and Brek Shea sent the ball back across the goal to Ihemelu, who headed in the game-winner.
Houston had a couple of late chances to equalize, but the Dallas defense held tight. With the 1-0 victory, Dallas also won El Capitán, the replica cannon awarded to the winner of the team’s regular season series for the second time since the inception of the rivalry.
View full statistics at the MLS MatchCenter.
DAL -- Ugo Ihemelu 1 (Dax McCarty 2, Brek Shea 1) 79
FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Heath Pearce, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Zach Loyd (Eric Avila 46) (Anthony Wallace 75), Jair Benitez, Atiba Harris, Daniel Hernandez, Dax McCarty, Brek Shea (Jason Yeisley 89), David Ferreira.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault (Richard Mulrooney 79), Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson (Ryan Cochrane 39), Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan, Brad Davis, Lovel Palmer, Corey Ashe (Danny Cruz 74), Dominic Oduro, Luis Landin.
DAL -- Daniel Hernandez (caution; Reckless Foul) 45
HOU -- Andrew Hainault (caution; Dissent) 50
DAL -- Jair Benitez (ejection; Violent Conduct) 73
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Jasen Anno