Striker Kei Kamara, who’s been impressive in his three matches for Leone Stars so far, scored two vital goals for the Houston Dynamo when they defeated Chivas USA, 4-0, on Wednesday night.
The Dynamo extended their winning streak to four games and their undefeated string to seven. Kamara won’t be part of the Leone Stars team against Equatorial Guinea on September 6 in Freetown because of a one-match suspension he received from FIFA after receiving two straight yellow cards.
In the first half of play, Houston created chances both in the first two minutes of play through their starting frontline. Kamara’s nice bending shot was followed by a glancing header from Nate Jaqua.
After an errant cross by Francisco Mendoza spoiled a 5-on-3 for Chivas in the 11th minute, Houston turned it back up-field and Brad Davis fed a perfectly weighted through-ball to Stuart Holden. The pass hit the US Olympian in full stride, racing down the left, and he chipped it inside the near post right over Chivas keeper Zach Thornton to give the home side the lead.
A set piece in the 18th minute probably should have made it 2-0. Davis looked like he was going near the post from the dead ball, but the shot glanced off the wall and landed on the back post where Bobby Boswell tried to toe poke it in. Then Clark almost put it on target with a header. It was more surprising that the ball somehow didn’t go in.
Houston waited all of four more minutes for the second strike to find the net when Kamara took a feed from Richard Mulrooney, turned with a defender on his back, and, as he was going to the ground, got enough leg on a shot to beat Thornton to the back post. A pretty manly individual effort, it must be said.
For their part, Chivas had a hard time even getting into the attacking third for much of the half. And when they did, they didn’t pose much of a threat. A couple of weak headers came floating in like “eephus” pitches and keeper Tony Caig easily collected them.
Houston then put the game away with scores in the 28th and 36th minutes to crush the remaining lifeforce out of the visitors. The first came off a Clack corner kick that bounced off the crossbar. It then deflected in front and Jaqua, standing a little inside the six, casually put it over the line. However, Chivas thought they had cleared it out, and the officials were slow to rule it a goal. But Jaqua’s shot had clearly crossed the line. 3-0.
The latter goal was scored by Kamara on a dynamite near-post header, giving him his first multi-goal game in the MLS.
Chivas had a chance in the 45th when a corner bounced around the box. In the mini melee, Jonathan Bornstein almost got a foot on it, but Caig muscled his way through a few bodies to scoop up the ball.
In the second half, Chivas again looked to threaten the score sheet when Daniel Paladini got in deep on the right, but Mulrooney was able to smother him before he even got off a shot.
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear seemed content to use the second half as a live ammo exercise in killing off a lead as the Dynamo absorbed the Chivas attack and counterattacked. The play was accordingly dynamic.
Second half sub Kraig Chiles got loose for Chivas’ best look of the match in the 56th, but he pushed a low shot wide past the right post.
Kamara had a couple of more chances for the Dynamo. The first he wasted by maybe being too unselfish as he looked to feed his strike partner Jaqua streaking down the middle of the box instead of just firing past Thornton when he had him beaten. Later, in the 77th minute, Kamara had Thornton beaten again as he came way off his line to chase the ball, but Kamara knocked his shot off the left post. D’oh, was the collected response from the fans at Robertson Stadium.
The only remaining drama was if the Dynamo would keep the clean sheet. Caig clinched that as he reached back to this left with a good lunging save in the 87th minute. Although maybe watching Wade Barrett walked to the sidelines with blood rushing down his face (dangerous play, but no whistle) just before full time was better theater.
The Dynamo’s remain unbeaten in their last seven to cement their place atop the West, while Chivas USA dropped their third in the last four, form that isn’t helping any playoff aspirations they might have.
The Dynamo (8-4-8) leads Major League Soccer’s Western Conference by five points over Real Salt Lake. Chivas USA (6-9-5) lost for the third time in four games and had its winless streak extended to five games.