Saturday, June 16, 2012

How Texas was won

Kinnear: "When you come here, you kind of learn pretty quickly if your eyes are open."
HOUSTON — It was bound to happen.

Since the curtain raised on the FC Dallas-Houston Dynamo rivalry, which Houston now owns with a 5-2 record, minor scuffles and dramatic plot twists have been routine. In a league with a number of sterilized rivalries created more out of media necessity than real honest-to-goodness vitriol, Houston-FCD has looked like one of the few torn from the blood-stained back pages of bitter feuds on the eastern end of the Continent or from the British Isle.

What was more surprising was not that Saturday's melee "went off," as the Brits say, but rather that it took more than an hour to cook before the pot started bubbling over. But once it did, Houston's eventual 2-1 win over FCD was a fun one to watch.

"The one thing for me in moving from California and the team moving here too, we had no idea about north and south Texas," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "When you come here, you kind of learn pretty quickly if your eyes are open. We do understand that (Dallas and Houston fans) don't like each other."

FCD was shorthanded enough without Jair Benitez's momentary lapse of concentration that all but cost FCD its last fighting chance. The Hoops were down an immense six regular starters through various injuries for Saturday's derby, namely Brek Shea, both center backs and the ubiquitously injured David Ferreira.

Benitez made it a cool seven before Saturday's game wrapped up. As Dynamo sub Colin Clark lazily trotted by Benitez in the 63rd minute, the play already a dozen yards downfield, Benitez absent-mindedly raised an arm toward Clark's face. Clark went down like a shot, and referee Jair Marrufo trotted over to his linesman, who had a better look, to confer. After a short chat, Marrufo pulled out a straight red for Benitez, and a game poised on a razor's edge was about to topple over as a result. A scrum broke out almost immediately. Both teams rushed in and engaged in a brief shoving match before things died down. But the sentiment did not.

Ten minutes later, with Houston rightly bossing play now, Moffat turned up in the box and struck in the game winner off one of Brad Davis' brilliantly positioned corners.

"There's certain guys in the league who have got the reputation for doing dirty stuff like that," Moffat said. "It happens a lot with certain guys, so it's disappointing to see that. You go over and you just make sure the ref saw it, and the linesman did see it, well done to him. I think when it gets like that, the other guys in the team are saying, 'OK, we've got a guy on our team sent off, let's try to get one of their guys sent off."

But Moffat had to finish it first. Ten minutes after Clark hit the deck — and he definitely sold it, make no mistake — the Dynamo earned a corner that Davis trotted over to take on his favored left foot. Davis' corners are a thing to see in person. I was looking down the FCD touch line as he snaked his effort toward goal, effortlessly dangling his cross just inside the six-yard box. Hartman came out with a two-fisted punch, but he hit the deck and rolled over as he struck the ground, and the ball fell squarely for Moffat, who found himself completely unmarked and staring at a gaping goal.

With a patch of turf all his own, the Scot took his time, settled in and ripped one through. Of course it helped that neither Ugo Ihemelu nor George John were fit enough to challenge, but it was a winning 2-1 scoreline all the same.

"At first I was just going to rush it," Moffat said. "Usually when it comes out to you you've got guys closing you down, but there wasn't anyone. I looked up and no one was coming. I steadied myself a little bit, and as guys were coming I managed to get a good connection on it and managed not to hit anyone.

"It was a great feeling. First goal of the season, and just the way the game was going it was good to get that goal."

Moffat sensed what the rest of the stadium did, that being that FC Dallas was far too close for comfort. Houston got a shocking early goal through a dash of luck when Will Bruin's shot deflected off Hernan Pertuz and then back off Bruin's thigh and past Hartman two minutes in. But FCD, peppered with losses and down a goal in a derby match in a loud atmosphere on the road, somehow ended up controlling play for much of the next hour.

So it was fitting that Jackson eventually responded to Bruin's gun report with one of his own. Scott Sealy, who got the start for injured Blas Perez up top as FCD's lone striker, lashed in a shot in the 59th minute that careened off Jermaine Taylor's thigh. It popped out to Jackson, who ripped across goal for the tying mark. It may have been a deserved goal, but it didn't stand long. Blame the fire this rivalry tends to produce for that.

As a result, FCD is winless in its last 10 and Houston can claim ownership of the Texas Derby. Again.

"I'm happy we won," Kinnear said. "Great goal by Adam. Obviously the red card swings the momentum. They had a little bit of good play to start the second half, and then with the red card it's kind of one-way traffic. We won the game. It was good to see the goals going in. We get to keep the canon another year or two, which is always a bonus."

- Will Parchman


dikranovich said...

pacman willy wonka, bring that orange jersey into rfk stadium, so we can turn the lone star into no stars.

Will Parchman said...

Orange jersey? I'm not a Dynamo fan. Email Dom, I guess.