Houston (1-0-2, 5 points) shares the lead with Mexican club UNAM, which it hosts Oct. 22 in its next CCL match. By then it will have played three more MLS games, including one of two postponed because of Hurricane Ike, but not even the backlog - Tuesday night Houston played its fifth game in 14 days - has inflicted a loss. In all competitions, the Dynamo is riding an eight-game unbeaten streak.
Coach Dominic Kinnear fielded a squad of regulars and backups, leaving Richard Mulrooney, Pat Onstad, Eddie Robinson and De Rosario on the bench and starting Chris Wondolowski up front in place of Brian Ching, who is with the U.S. national team. Houston, playing its first game at Roberston in nearly a month, pressed San Francisco for most of the first half, and took an early lead when Wondolowski headed home an excellent serve from Corey Ashe in the 13th minute. He had last scored against CSD Municipal in the Concacaf Champions' Cup in March.
Two more chances soon followed and had either been converted Houston might have run SFFC off the field. Keeper Carlos Valdes dived left to snag a fierce shot from Ashe in the 16th minute, and three minutes later he turned away a sharp Wondolowski header. The pressure continued but failed to produce a second goal and less than two minutes into the second half a rare Dynamo defensive lapse proved costly.
Temisocles Perez ran onto a long ball and split a pair of Houston defenders to float a chip from 35 yards over goalie Tony Caig and just under the crossbar. Caig had come just a few yards off his line and tried to backpedal but had no chance to reach the audacious effort by Perez.
Its confidence boosted, San Francisco began breaking up Houston attacks in midfield and setting up a few of its own. Alberto Zapata opened up space a few times as Mulrooney, a halftime replacement for midfielder Ricardo Clark, and central defenders Pat Ianni and Bobby Boswell tried to regain control of the middle.
Kinnear also brought on Kyle Brown for Brian Mullan and moved him up front to add scoring punch. Caig saved from Eduardo Jimenez and got an assist from midfielder Stuart Holden, who deflected a Juan Solis shot wide of the post.
Three minutes after DeRosario entered in the 78th minute, Ashe nearly untied the match when played clear on the right flank, but his soft dink of a bouncing ball hit the near post, and he lashed the rebound wide with a wide-open Brown calling for it at the edge of the six-yard box.
SFFC had seemingly done enough to escape with a point when Alberto Blanco carelessly dawdled 40 yards from his own goal. DeRosario stepped between him and the ball to win it, and pushed it forward into space before drilling a right-footed rip past a stunned, stationary, and probably unsighted Valdes.
A few squabbles broke out in stoppage time and referee Benito Archundia cautioned San Francisco substitutes Wess Torres and Angel Lombardo.
Despite being outshot, 20-6, the visitor had come within a few minutes of garnering a tie, but in those minutes De Ro stole the ball, and the show, and the points.
Oct. 7 in Houston
Houston Dynamo 2 San Francisco FC 1. Goals: Wondolowski (Ashe) 13, De Rosario 88; Perez 47.
Houston -- Caig, Chabala, Boswell, Ianni, Barrett, Mullan (Brown, 56), Clark (Mulrooney, 46), Holden, Ashe, Wondolowski, Jaqua (De Rosario, 78).
San Francisco FC -- Valdes, Algandona, Granados (De Alba 62), Rivera, Perez (W.Torres 84), Jimenez, Solis (Lombardo, 78), M.Torres, Ortega, Zapata, Blanco.
Yellow cards: Houston -- Mulrooney 74; SFFC - M.Torres 60, W.Torres 91+, Lombardo 92+.
Referee: Benito Archundia