By DAN KARELL
For 90 minutes on Wednesday evening, the Houston Dynamo looked like the MLS Cup contenders of old.
Facing the Columbus Crew in a midweek Eastern Conference encounter, the Dynamo defeated the Crew, 1-0, in an end to end match with chances for both teams. Will Bruin scored the Dynamo’s only goal early in the second half, his third match in a row with a goal.
The victory improved Houston’s record to 4-4-2, good for a four-way tie for first place in the East. With the loss, the Crew dropped to 3-3-3 and they have now gone winless in their last six matches and have not scored a goal from the run of play in more than 270 minutes.
It didn’t always look like it would be a tightly-contested affair though. Early on, the Crew had chances to score from both Jairo Arrieta and Bernardo Anor. While the two international players were very active and had plenty of touches, they lacked the finishing touch on their shot or final ball.
Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was called into action for the first time in the 30th minute, when he made a spectacular diving save to stop a flicked header that took a deflection from going in.
Late in the first half, Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia went on a barn-storming run forward and laid the ball off to Andrew Driver, who fired his fierce drive wide of goal. Giles Barns next came close with two chances in the final minutes of the first half, though Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark was up to the task then.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Dynamo were the team in rhythm and they made the Crew pay for their mistakes. In the 50th minute, Brad Davis sent an out-swinging free kick into the box that Bruin tried to head into the net. Instead, he missed the header attempt but the ball ricochet off his back and in past the helpless Clark.
Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter used all three of his substitutions on attack-minded players – Daniel Paladini, Justin Meram, and Adam Bedell – while Dynamo head coach Dom Kinnear gave Davis a breather, replacing him with Warren Creavalle in the 61st minute.
The Crew’s best chance of the evening came in the 83rd minute, when Meram went on a slaloming run through the heart of the pitch before fizzing a shot off the post.
Things became feisty towards the end of the match as David Horst and Giancarlo Gonzalez as well as Adam Bedell were involved in confrontations.
Here are the match highlights: