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San Jose Earthquakes vs. Houston Dynamo match report: Quakes fall 2-0 on goals by Clark and Bruin

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The Quakes never really got started as Clark scored early and Bruin scored late for the Dynamo

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With 18,000 in attendance under Friday night lights at sold out Avaya Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes fell in convincing fashion to the Houston Dynamo by a score of 2-0.

The most dangerous lead in soccer, as it is often called, though more often than not it results in a win for the team with said advantage, was spearheaded by a player of the match performance by Dynamo man in the middle Ricardo Clark, who scored the game winner early in the first half. Will Bruin iced the game with ten minutes left after San Jose had to press forward with numbers with the game still within reach.

The result was only the Earthquakes second loss at Avaya Stadium, but it was a costly one, as Houston made up three critical points in the Western Conference standings and moved to within a point of San Jose for seventh place.

The Earthquakes welcomed their 2009 MLS SuperDraft third round selection Quincy Amarikwa back to the team a few weeks ago in a trade with the Chicago Fire, and with the MLS summer transfer window opening on July 8 making him eligible to play, he was put into the starting eleven at forward.

In the 10th minute, the Dynamo struck first with a well-finished header from Clark from the top of the six. With room to operate on the left wing after receiving a pass from DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder Alexander Lopez cut the ball back to his right foot and fired a cross through the area that Clark, climbing past his marker Shaun Francis, bounced off the turf and out of the reach of David Bingham.

The Quakes nearly equalized in the 21st minute when a quick effort from Tommy Thompson at the top of the area was deflected by defender Memo Rodriguez and traveled back into the midfield, only for Fatai Alashe to take a crack at it from 20 yards and force goalkeeper Tyler Deric to paw the ball over the crossbar.

In the 30th minute, a blast from outside the area by Matias Perez Garcia was coughed up by Deric, but Amarikwa was unable to connect with the loose ball and it was corralled by the goalkeeper. However, before he was able to put the ball back into play referee Sorin Stoica whistled Deric for an infraction that gifted San Jose an indirect free kick inside the area. Stoica also showed Deric yellow for the offense.

With the Dynamo back line pinned in its own zone, the Earthquakes drew up a playground play that had Shea Salinas touch the ball to set up Victor Bernardez for an attempt on goal. And what an attempt it was, as the Honduran rocketed a shot through traffic and off the far post, shaking the woodwork to the foundation. Unfortunately, it was a case of close, but no cigar for Big Vic.

The visitors came close to doubling their lead as the match entered first half stoppage time when Beasley shook loose of Marvell Wynne and fired a ball into the area to Alex near the penalty spot. He whipped a ball on target, but Bingham got just enough on the ball to slow its path and keep the score at 1-0 going into halftime.

Thompson, who looked more and more comfortable as the first half wore on, had a bright start after intermission with a solid attempt from the top of the area in the 53rd minute, but Deric made a comfortable save as the ball nestled right into his breadbasket.

Houston goalscorer Clark had Bingham beat in the 56th minute with a blast from the top of the 18, but Bernardez saved the Quakes with a sliding left-footed block. Seconds later, Clark had another attempt, but this time it was a comfortable save for the Quakes' 'keeper, and the 18,000 in attendance let out a collective sigh of relief.

The Earthquakes, desperate to get something going against a Dynamo side content to defender with numbers, subbed in Mark Sherrod for Perez Garcia in the 68th minute. The Argentine had missed the Quakes last game, a 1-0 loss at the Portland Timbers, with a slight hamstring strain, so an abbreviated appearance seemed in the cards from the start. The move to introduce Sherrod allowed San Jose to adopt a more familiar two-forward front line.

And needing more energy on the wings, the Quakes brought in Leandro Barrera for Shea Salinas in the 79th minute, electing to put on a player with only offense on his mind.

In the 81st minute, following a careless giveaway from Sanna Nyassi in the Earthquakes side of the field, Houston made the score 2-0 on a clinical counterattack. First is was Leonel Miranda to pounce on the loose ball, who carried uncontested into the area, before squaring to a wide-open Bruin to his left. The Dynamo forward calmly side-footed the ball into an empty net, graciously accepting a gift-wrapped goal.

A frenetic but fruitless effort to end the match did nothing to change the scoreline, and the Dynamo avenged a loss to the Quakes earlier this season with the 2-0 victory. Up next for San Jose is home match against CONCACAF Champions League titleholders Club America as part of the International Champions Cup on Tuesday evening. The Quakes return to MLS action on Friday with a trip to the LA Galaxy.