Houston Dynamo brought an end to their winless run on Sunday night with victory over high-flying DC United at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Will Bruin’s stoppage-time strike handed the Dynamo their first success in nine games, against a United side who could have gone top of the Supporters’ Shield standings and had also won their previous four matches.
World Cup pair DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido were debutants for the hosts, and both posted impressive performances as their new team moved back into the play-off reckoning.
Beasley was involved straight from kick-off, bombing forward from left-back and causing problems that resulted in Bill Hamid doing well to deal with Giles Barnes’ dipping cross. The Englishman then centred again, and though Bruin’s header bounced away off the woodwork, he should have done better.
Houston continued to attack in numbers, with Boniek Garcia the next to have a go, shooting into the goalkeeper’s arms. Ricardo Clark poked wide after twisting and turning inside the area, and Bruin’s low effort was smothered.
The Texan’s top-scorer rose above his marker to nod at the target in the 21st minute, but once more Hamid was his equal. Next, it was strike-partner Barnes’ turn, flashing just past the post, before the same player was brilliantly denied by a block from the Black-and-Reds' All-Star stopper.
An injury to Luis Silva caused a delay that took the game through to the break, but few would have noticed the DC forward’s absence from the pitch as the Orange Crush domination continued to limit the four-time champions.
Within nine minutes of the restart, Hamid was worked again, saving a Brad Davis thump, though the Dynamo were soon to be tested for the first time. The ball sat up nicely for Chris Rolfe to unleash a dipping drive from distance that was uncomfortably pushed away by Tally Hall.
Back came Dominic Kinnear’s side, led by captain Davis, but the 32-year-old rippled only the outside of the net to the relief of the men from the capital. Penalty appeals at either end - from United States teammates Eddie Johnson and Beasley - bore no fruit, and Garrido then forced the visiting custodian into a low stop.
Incredibly, after much frustration, Bruin snatched victory in the dying seconds after a defensive mix-up.
Steve Birnbaum failed to make clean contact with a clearing header, and in trying to atone for his error he knocked the ball past Hamid, where Omar Cummings pounced and squared for a simple tap-in.
DC tried desperately to find an equaliser, but the home backline held firm and collected a vital three points.