Will Bruin scored for the third consecutive game in Major League Soccer as the Houston Dynamo beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
United States forward Bruin nodded in a 50th minute winner to help Houston to their second win in four days.
The Dynamo came into this game on a high following their 4-1 demolition of Chivas USA last week, but they had previously gone six matches without a win, and hadn’t enjoyed a home victory since March 16.
Brad Davis’ return has significantly boosted their attack, but with their captain almost certain to depart to the World Cup next week, the recent rejuvenation of Bruin and Giles Barnes has been more than welcome.
Columbus, meanwhile, have dropped off in recent weeks after winning their first three matches of the season. Gregg Berhalter’s side were comfortably beaten in Kansas on Sunday and couldn’t find the net here despite numerous chances.
Though Houston started confidently and pressed the visitors, the Crew had the best of the early opportunities.
First, in the sixth minute, Bernardo Anor found space in the box, but fired straight at Tally Hall when he had time to take a touch. Then, the dangerous Josh Williams directed his header narrowly over from Federico Higuain’s right-wing corner.
The Dynamo continued to struggle to break their opponents down, and in the 25th minute Columbus broke again.
This time it was Jairo Arrieta who got his shot away, which was gathered by goalkeeper Hall at the second attempt.
Five minutes later, the Houston stopper had to make a rather more impressive save. A near-post header from a Crew corner was deflected goal-wards, and only an instinctive right-hand prevented an away goal.
Arrieta and Higuain were started to cause real problems to the Dynamo, and it was the former who then flashed an effort wide after a smart turn 25 yards out.
The home side managed to enjoy an extended spell of possession at the end of the opening period, but threatened only through two powerful Giles Barnes drives, and Columbus comfortably held on ‘till half-time.
Immediately after the break though, Houston were on top and in front.
A trademark Davis free-kick found Bruin, whose looping header nestled in the far corner of the net for his sixth goal of 2014.
Servando Carrasco could have double the Dynamo’s lead four minutes later, but he curled wide at the end of a flowing team move.
The Crew tried to respond and Costa Rica international Waylon Francis’ long-range strike forced another fine save from Hall.
Within a minute, he had to again be alert, though Arrieta should have done better with his volley – the United States hopeful gathering easily.
As Houston struggled to contain Columbus, more chances fell the visitors’ way, with Williams slicing horribly in the box when well-placed.
In the 84th minute, substitute Justin Meram almost fired an equaliser, as his shot cannoned back out off the foot of the post following a penetrating run at the heart of the home defence.
The game continued in an entertaining fashion, with no real pattern to the play and the ball moving from end to end. However, neither side were able to create a meaningful opening until Andrew Driver tame stoppage time effort was held by Steve Clark.
Ultimately, the Dynamo managed to hold on for the three points and with that moved ahead of their opponents in the league table.
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