Houston pulled ahead of Red Bull New York in the Eastern Conference, in a 4-1 rout of DC United as Will Bruin scored three times.
The Dynamo fielded an attacking diamond 4-1-3-2. Geoff Cameron was the distribution midfielder, with Will Bruin and Cam Weaver getting the start up front. Colin Clark got a start in right midfield.
DC United matched the Dynamo formation. Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff started as strikers. Jed Zayner was the only surprise start, at right back.
The first twenty five minutes of the match were controlled by the Dynamo. They tended to play up the left side. Corey Ashe and Brad Davis were very strong in carrying possession past Fred and Jed Zayner. Bruin’s first goal was a shifty shot past a charging Bill Hamid on the near post. He was put through by Cameron, and DC’s young defense was caught napping on the run.
After 25 minutes, Dominic Kinnear’s club backed off a bit, and United then enjoyed more of the possession. While DC played a rather narrow formation on defense, Pontius and Fred would get very wide on the attack. One such run up the left by Pontius ended in cries for a penalty. Pontius deked his way around Hunter Freeman, and the right back tackled him in the box without getting ball.
DC equalized on a set piece play, a hard left foot from Marc Birch. At that point, the Dynamo shook awake. Two minutes later Bruin got his second score after heading home a Davis cross from close range. The halftime was 2-1, and the young defensive line for United were outmatched.
Ben Olsen made a positive change at the half, bringing on Andy Najar for Fred. This allowed DC to gain some control, since Najar forced Davis and Ashe to stay at home given the youngster’s speed.
The game changed for the worse for DC in the 57th minute, as Bruin completed the hat trick from his head. Davis’s free kick was perfectly placed in the center of the area, and Bruin had plenty of room to redirect the curler past Hamid. A final goal from Cam Weaver was the final toll of the bell, as United’s defense fell asleep on a throw-in. Freeman threw the ball to Weaver who was alone near the edge of the area. He did need a precision strike from a sharp angle to thread it home.
From that point forward, there were no real tactical changes for either team, only subs for fresh legs. DC did gain a few chances, but the life was sucked out of them as they conceded the second Bruin goal.
Houston looks strong thus far, grabbing first place for at least 24 hours in the East. DC United received their second shellacking in two weeks. It appears that the team needs a stabilizing center back, as the youngsters Jakovic and Kitchen struggled all night. There is still plenty of soccer to be played for DC, but they are in need of some confidence and guys like Dax McCarty to step up to the challenge.