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Resilient Dynamo grinds out a point
by Ridge Mahoney, September 24th, 2008 7AM

TAGS:  concacaf champions league


[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS' LEAGUE] As an organization and as a team, the Houston Dynamo has a curious method of enduring congested schedules, acts of nature, and occasional upheavals.

Everybody concerned just gets on with it. Since MLS and Anschutz Entertainment Group uprooted the team from San Jose and moved it halfway across the country, it has won two league titles and performed well in international competitions with nary a complaint.

So about a week after returning from a road trip to patch up and clean up at home in the wake of Hurricane Ike, the Dynamo traveled to Panama City for its Concacaf Champions' League opener Tuesday against San Francisco FC and came away with a 0-0 tie.

Coach Dominic Kinnear, mindful that his team will play four games in the next 12 days and a match every three days for the next month or so, rested several regulars but was able to field defender Craig Waibel, who has played only 13 league games this year partially because of injuries. Eddie Robinson, who was suspended in Houston's last league match and is ineligible for the MLS game Saturday in Toronto, did not play as Kinnear gave a start to Patrick Ianni in central defense alongside Bobby Boswell.

Houston's defense bent a few times without breaking. Alberto Zapata twice breached the Quakes in the first half yet failed to score. He turned and fired a volley that keeper Pat Onstad stretched to turn away, and a few minutes later his sharp header on a Manuel Torres free kick came back off the crossbar.

A rare Onstad fumble, as Wess Torres challenged his leap for a free kick, yielded a shot from Juan Solis that Onstad pushed over the top. Onstad finished the match with seven saves.

Geoff Cameron shot low just past the far post with one of the Dynamo's few good chances. Second-half substitutes Dwayne DeRosario, Brian Mullan and Brian Ching gave Houston more of an attacking presence but despite good possession in the middle third Houston's rare opportunities came on set plays. Ching headed a Stuart Holden corner kick on frame that San Francisco goalie Carlos Valdes snagged easily.

San Francisco FC, which tied UNAM, 1-1, in its opener last week, leads the group with two points from its two ties. Houston heads to Mexico City to play UNAM next Tuesday; Pumas hosts the fourth team in Group B, Luis Angel Firpo of El Salvador, Wednesday in Mexico City.

The other MLS representative in the group phase, D.C. United, plays at Honduran club Marathon Wednesday. United lost at home to Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa, 2-0, last week.

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