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Dynamo finds its groove
by Ridge Mahoney, June 11th, 2009 7AM



[MLS] To the critics of slow starts, which have been the rule rather than the exception since the team moved from San Jose to Houston, Dynamo players, coaches and fans reply thusly:

"Nine games unbeaten, four wins in a row, 16 goals scored, seven goals allowed. Any questions?"

With a Stuart Holden goal -- his fourth of the season and second in as many games-- in first-half stoppage time Wednesday at Robertson Stadium, Houston (7-2-3) knocked off Western Conference leader Chivas USA, 1-0, and moved to within three points of the top spot.

Holden ran onto a flick by Cam Weaver, who had just joined the team in a trade with San Jose, from a long goal kick by goalie Pat Onstad and took the ball around Zach Thornton to roll it behind the keeper into the empty net.

The goal marked the end to a first half dominated by Houston, which outshot Chivas USA, 7-0, in the first 45 minutes and ended up 11-3 on the plus side. Onstad's only save came in the 83rd minute when he parried a rising shot by Maykel Galindo.

Coach Preki again used Jorge Flores in place of Jonathan Bornstein at left back and gave rookie midfielder Michael Lahoud his second straight start in the absence of Sacha Kljestan, with both Bornstein and Kljestan in South Africa with the U.S. national team.

Holding two games in hand, and with Chivas USA (8-3-3) scheduled to play just one more league match (at Columbus on Sunday) before devoting the rest of June to SuperLiga, the Dynamo looks a pretty solid bet to be in first place by Independence Day. Chivas has failed to beat Houston in its last eight meetings and the shutout, which also tied Onstad with Thornton for the league lead (six apiece), extended its scoreless streak against the Dynamo to an amazing 645 minutes.

June 10 in Houston
Houston 1, Chivas USA 0
Holden (Weaver) 47+.
Houston -- Onstad, Waibel, Boswell, Cameron, Hainault, Mullan, Holden, Mulrooney, Davis (Ashe 88), Kamara (Akinbiyi 85), Weaver (Oduro 74).
Chivas USA -- Thornton, Curtin (Suarez 73), Talley, Thomas, Flores, Lahoud (Lillingston 60), Marsch (Eskandarian 66), Nagamura, Victorine, Harris, Galindo. Referee: Jorge Gonzalez.
Att.: 14,516.


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