The Houston Dynamo and host DIRECTV W Connection shared the points, playing to a scoreless draw in a CONCACAF Champions League Group 1 match at Hasely Crawford Stadium on Tuesday.
W Connection, which lost its Group Stage opener, 3-1, on the road to Panama’s Arabe Unido, had the first dangerous scoring opportunity in the 16th minute, but a sliding Mirko Delia couldn’t latch onto a low cross toward the back post by Kurt Frederick.
Houston, which was playing its Group Stage opener, nearly went into halftime with a lead. Brian Ching played a nice one-touch pass to Cam Weaver, freeing the forward into the box. Weaver took a touch, but then fired his attempt well over the bar from 15 meters in the 37th minute.
The Dynamo could not turn its second-half possession into concrete chances on goal. In the 59th minute, Alexander Lopez found space outside the box, but his low shot bounced wide of the right post.
Three minutes later, Houston had its first dangerous set piece opportunity. Driver’s shot from 24 meters eluded the four-man wall and went directly into the arms of W Connection goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa.
Giles Barnes, who scored a brace in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders on the weekend, entered the match in the 67th minute as a substitute for Ching. The English forward, however, wasn’t able to duplicate his domestic magic.
In the 71st minute, Houston nearly capitalized off a Driver corner kick, but after the ball was headed down by Weaver in the box, Jason Johnson’s shot from 16 meters was blocked in front of the goal.
One minute later, Neil Benjamin had a golden opportunity to score in his second consecutive CONCACAF Champions League match, staring at an open net on a 2-on-0 break. The 18-year-old’s first-time attempt from four meters went off the outside netting.
Benjamin had another great chance in the 84th minute, but he put his lob from inside the box off the crossbar before falling to the grass suffering from leg cramps.
Weaver put a header on frame in the third minute of second-half stoppage time that was momentarily bobbled by Figueroa, who quickly recovered to end the tense scoreless draw.
Houston, which booked its fourth CONCACAF Champions League berth by reaching the MLS Cup final for a second straight year, returns to Champions League play next Tuesday when it hosts Arabe Unido at BBVA Compass Stadium. W Connection doesn’t play its next Group 1 match until September 19 against visiting Arabe Undio.
W Connection: - 21.Alejandro Figueroa, 24.Joao Ananias, 2.Kurt Frederick, 10.Joevin Jones (capt) (7.Silvio Spann 60th - Yellow 75), 25.Christian Viveros, 15.Mekeil Williams, 14.Hachim Arcia (31.Jerrel Britto 46th), 65.Neil Benjamin, 6.Celio da Silva Santos, 3.Gerard Williams, 16.Mirko Delia (9.Andrei Pacheco 76th).
Coach: - Stuart Charles Fevrier.
Houston Dynamo: - 1.Tally Hall, 6.Mike Chabala, 8.Kofi Sarkodie, 4.Jermaine Taylor, 2.Eric Brunner, 5.Warren Creavalle, 20.Andrew Driver (Yellow 41), 10.Alexander López (16.Adam Moffat 85th), 25.Brian Ching (capt) (23.Giles Barnes 66th), 14.Jason Johnson (22.Brian Ownby 85th), Cam Weaver.
Coach: - Dominic Kinnear.
Video: - W Connection vs Houston Dynamo Highlights
Referee: - Marco Antonio Rodríguez.
Venue: - Hasley Crawford Stadium.
P W D L F A Pts
Arabe Unido 1 1 0 0 3 1 3
Houston Dynamo 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
W Connection 2 0 1 1 3 1 1
Houston Dynamo admits they were lucky.
By Darrell Lovell (Houston Dynamo Press).
Houston Dynamo admit they're lucky not to leave Trinidad with loss. Despite controlling the majority of the play, Dynamo were a couple of breaks away from a loss.
In a match with few chances, the Houston Dynamo found themselves one Neil Benjamin finish away from a tough loss.
In the final 20 minutes of their CONCACAF Champions League opener in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night, the Dynamo pushed numbers forward chasing an ever-elusive game-winning goal. Twice, those pushes led to gaps in the back and chances for W Connection’s Benjamin to punish them. Yet the finishes, like many on both sides, failed to find the back of the net.
For a team that knows how important a point on the road is, the missed attempts by Benjamin saved a 0-0 draw that could help Houston advance out of Group 1 in the CCL.
“That’s bound to happen when you’re pushing late in the game to get a goal, sometimes you’re going to leave chances at the back,” Dynamo winger Andrew Driver told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We did that a couple of times and we were lucky for them not to score.”
Benjamin’s first opportunity was the one he’ll not want to see on film. The 73rd-minute play started on a seemingly harmless clearance beat a failed step by Eric Brunner to put W Connection in a two-on-one with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. Benjamin, however, mis-hit his finish and, instead of scoring on an open net, parked the ball in the side netting.
The second came eight minutes later off a giveaway in midfield. This time, Hall came out and forced a bad angle and Benjamin’s attempt clanged off the framework.
“There were some miscues in midfield by us that led to them catching us on the break,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “I thought we were organized, but sometimes when you misplay the ball, the break is on and they had some pace to get behind us, which they did.”
If Benjamin had finished either of those chances, it would have made for a tough loss. The Dynamo spent the first 70 minutes as the better team and had the lion’s share of the good play. But space in front of goal and touch in the final third were tight.
In the end, the breakdowns and missed opportunities didn't cost them and the club exits a long trip to Trinidad and Tobago with a point. It’s a familiar script and one they feel will get them to their next step, which is advancing to the knockout rounds.
“I think the draw was pretty much a fair result,” Kinnear said. “I thought W Connection had some good players and to get a point on the road in a tournament like this is a positive.
“We did the same thing last year, which was try and get positive results on the road and it got us into the next round,” Kinnear said. “We’ll keep on trying to do that.”