TORONTO – The Houston Dynamo walked into newly renovated BMO Field and left a hungry, energy-filled crowd in stunned silence following goals from Boniek Garcia and Will Bruin in a 2-1 victory, spoiling Toronto FC’s long-awaited homecoming.
Garcia tucked home a rebound off his own penalty kick and Bruin finished a perfectly executed counter attack led by Giles Barnes to put Houston ahead 2-0. A late Jozy Altidore header made the finish interesting, but in the end TFC’s two-game winning streak came to a skretching halt in what was supposed to be a celebratory end to their seven-game road trip to start the season. TFC remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with nine points from eight games.
Houston, meanwhile, put an end to their two-game losing streak and four-game winless skid in fine fashion to jump out of last place in the Western Conference, now with 13 points from 11 games.
With the home crowd in full voice, Toronto FC started the match as they had in their last two, with a defense-first approach, allowing Houston possession while doing well to close down offensive moves with two banks of four players. The first half was riddled with a plethora of corner kicks, 10 for Houston and five for Toronto, which produced some moments of danger but were largely ineffective at testing either goalkeeper.
TFC’s star attacking duo of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco had a few chances at goal in the first half, but it was a penalty that opened the scoring.
Houston left back DaMarcus Beasley made a clever run into the box and picked up a deft through pass, forcing Michael Bradley into making a lunging tackle. Bradley’s slide brought Beasley down, and the referee pointed to the spot.
TFC ‘keeper Chris Konopka saved Garcia’s initial attempt, but he tucked home the rebound in the 44th minute to give Houston the lead at halftime.
Houston didn’t stop there, however. In the 53rd minute, Barnes burst past Bradley on a breakaway, slipped a pass by Damien Perquis and Nick Hagglund and found an onrushing Bruin, who buried his shot past Konopka for Houston’s second.
The Dynamo continued creating dangerous chances throughout the second half, and just past the hour mark nearly got a third when Barnes smacked a first-time shot off the crossbar.
TFC finally found a goal of their own when Jonathan Osorio, who came on as a substitute in response to Bruin’s goal and gave the home side width with an attacking option on the wing, sent a pinpoint cross to an unmarked Altidore, who headed home to the near side of Dynamo ‘keeper Tyler Deric.
Rain began to fall and the crowd came to life for the final 10 minutes as TFC pushed for the equalizer.
But despite a few close calls and six minutes of added time, it wasn’t enough as Houston held strong to deny Toronto in the end.
Toronto FC next take on the Montreal Impact on Wednesday in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship; Houston head home to play host to the Portland Timbers on Saturday.