New San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear's team marked his first return to Houston since coaching the club there from 2006 to 2014 with a fine 1-0 victory.
The teams set up in slightly odd formations: 4-1-4-1 for the Quakes with Adam Jahn up front, and 4-5-1 for Houston. The game also saw the welcome return of Birmingham, UK-born Jordan Stewart who was sufficiently recovered from a calf muscle injury to start the game at left back.
It was the Dynamo that created the first clear chance of the game in the 15th minute. A low, in-swinging corner kick was met by a diving header from Dynamo defender Raul Rodriguez at the back post, but his effort flew just wide.
The Quakes almost broke the deadlock in the 18th minute when midfielder Shea Salinas lofted a curling ball to the back post, where Chris Wondolowski rose to meet it, but his glancing header flew narrowly wide. Standing right behind Wondo was the shorter figure of Matias Perez Garcia who might have been better positioned to hit the target.
In the 34th minute, Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis did some fine work to make space in front of goal and blasted a fierce shot from outside the penalty area that curved just wide of the post.
The first half ended with the teams tied 0-0.
In the 54th minute San Jose earned a free kick in an area that invited the long dipping ball into the box. They worked a quick free kick that didn't look like a quick free kick. In a move evidently worked out on the training field, as Salinas placed the ball on the spot, gazing at the penalty area as if assessing where to aim the ball, Garcia ran quickly up and lofted the ball into the area. Adam Jahn timed his run behind the Houston defense to perfection, directing a fine header past Tyler Deric and into the net. It was almost two years to the day since Adam Jahn had scored for the Quakes, his last goal coming on May 8, 2013, against Toronto FC.
Just three minutes later, Houston looked set to level the game when midfielder Oscar Garcia was brought down in the area by San Jose keeper David Bingham and the referee pointed to the spot. Bingham, however, kept his head, waited for Giles Barnes to show his hand, and as the ball was struck got down quickly to steer it wide of the post. Shrugging aside his teammates' congratulations, Bingham set the defense for the resulting Houston corner, and rose to pluck the ball like the cherry from atop the cake.
From that point on, the Earthquakes maintained a fine defensive performance to keep the clean sheet and leave BBVA Compass Stadium with three points.
San Jose plays the fourth of four consecutive road contests this Friday night against Colorado at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, beginning at 7:00 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on Univision Deportes, 1370 KZSF and 1590 KLIV.
Post Game Quotes
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH DOMINIC KINNEAR
On the return to Houston:
"I'm glad we won the game. It's easier to leave than it was to come back because you realize how good you had it here. But, all in all, as far as the game goes it's a huge three points for us."
On the goal:
"I didn't see it. I was actually talking to the referee about something and then the bench... I heard celebrating. I actually didn't see the play, but it's something to talk about. Something to get our big guys up forward and if there's a chance we can get something on it, it's going to be a benefit to us so it was the difference in the game tonight."
On his feeling walking into the stadium:
"Really weird, and we shared some jokes with some guys - George and Edgar. Going past the locker room and coming this way, I had never really been in this locker room before so I never knew where the coach's office was so it was definitely strange. But I did get a nice welcome by all the people here that made it a bit easier."
On the quick free kick:
"It's up to them. If they see it, it's available, do it. I'm not going to complain. You want to try and do that and maybe catch some teams off guard. Sometimes you get a chance to do it, sometimes you don't, but it's all up to the guys on the ball."
On the momentum from the penalty kick save:
"The penalty kick was a big one. It came minutes after our goal so it's a huge save by David [Bingham]. After that we defended a little bit better. I think it woke us up a little bit defensively."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD ADAM JAHN
On scoring the winner:
"It's massive for the team. We needed a win really badly. It's a whole team effort. We dug down deep and got the result."
On the quick free kick:
"Yeah, we've had that in the back of our mind. It's the second half and guys are tired and not everyone's alert and we caught them off guard."
"I mean personally it's great for me, but like I said, it's all about the team. We got the win and that's the most important thing."
On winning on the road:
"It's very difficult especially in a place like Houston with this humidity in the middle of a three-game road trip. It's very difficult so hats off to all the guys, it was a team effort."
On Kinnear's return to Houston:
"Coach Kinnear doesn't really talk much about that so we didn't have it in our head. We always focus on ourselves going into the game. We can only control our effort."
On the penalty save:
"That was massive for us. A great save by David [Bingham], and that kind of gave us hope and we still had the lead."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOALKEEPER DAVID BINGHAM
On the three points:
"It's huge. Any time you play any of the guys from the Western Conference. It's great to get three points. It's a big swing for us. They were close to us, and now it puts us a little bit ahead now."
On the penalty kick:
"I was able to get down and get a hand on it. It's good to help the guys out. Adam [Jahn] put us ahead with a great header and gave us all three points tonight."
On saving the penalty moments after taking the lead:
"It keeps us with three points in our hands and that's what we're looking for every game - home and away. It doesn't matter, we want three points. We put in a good 90 minutes, and it wasn't the prettiest game but everyone worked their butts off and we were able to get three points."
On Kinnear's return to Houston making the win more special:
"I don't think he would say that. I think we are happy for him. He wants to win every game regardless of where he's at. It may be a little more special to come here and put on a good performance, and we were able to get three points from them tonight."
Statistics and Line-ups
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: David Bingham, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart, Fatai Alashe (JJ Koval 29), Sanna Nyassi (Cordell Cato 65), Chris Wondolowski, Matias Perez Garcia (Tommy Thompson 83), Shea Salinas, Adam Jahn.
HOUSTON DYNAMO: Tyler Deric, Jermaine Taylor, Raul Rodriguez, DaMarcus Beasley, Kofi Sarkodie (David Horst 83), Brad Davis, Oscar Garcia (Rob Lovejoy 74), Luis Garrido, Ricardo Clark, Alexander Lopez (Will Bruin 65), Giles Barnes.