With only two days to prepare, Brian Bliss conceded post game that he couldn't do much tactically, but he did want to change the mentality. The Crew certainly looked like they had a change of attitude as they dodged several early Houston chances, overcame a penalty save, and eased to victory behind goals from rookie Ryan Finley and winger Justin Meram.
Houston didn't allow the Crew to get that early spark as they quickly attacked. Will Bruin would torment Eric Gehrig early. He would pull down a pass in the first minute and get past the Crew defender. Bruin would slip past Matt Lampson a chip an attempt towards goal. Only an incredible Chad Barson sliding save kept the Dynamo off the board.
Bruin would again find space against Gehrig a couple more times early in the game. Taking a long pass from Jason Johnson, Bruin would separate from Gehrig but would fire his shot just high. Bruin would turn on Gehrig in the 11th minute and get off a free shot at goal, but would put it wide.
After withstanding heavy Dynamo pressure, the Crew settled in and started to control the game. Neither side looked comfortable in attack and the half ended without either side seriously troubling the opposing keeper.
After a sluggish first half, the Crew would get on the board quickly after the break. Tony Tchani, subbing for an injured Wil Trapp, would settle possession in the midfield and slip Adam Moffat. He would drop a pass to Finley who one touched back to Bernardo Anor at the top of the box. Anor would chip a pass to free Justin Meram along the left side of the penalty area. Meram rewarded the run of a wide open Finley who buried a shot from point blank.
Oduro would set up the perfect chance to extend the lead in the 50th minute. He slipped past Bobby Boswell who pulled his jersey in the box, forcing him off balance as he shot. Jair Marrufo would call the penalty. Finley would step up and fire a drive right at Tally Hall who would parry the shot to keep it 1-0.
The Dynamo pressed to equalize, but the Crew judiciously looked for their chances. Columbus would seal the game with an excellent effort from Justin Meram in the 74th minute to make it 2-0. Oduro crossed in a ball from the end line that Finley misplayed, but found Meram. Meram then drove towards goal and cut a left footed shot past Hall.
Oduro nearly put a third in just after Meram's goal. A lackadaisical pass from Brad Davis was intercepted by Chad Marshall. He quickly pushed the ball to Jairo Arrieta. The Costa Rican fed Oduro past the back line. Oduro beat Hall, but Warren Creavalle cleared the ball off the line.
Houston would have their chance to get back in the game late off of a Davis corner kick. The service bent towards the near post and Bobby Boswell drove the ball towards goal, but it rattled the crossbar and kept the difference at two.
The win was the Crew's first after back to back losses against Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders and it keeps their slight playoff hopes alive. The game also gave a glimmer of a Crew team that could play with a little confidence, even if it was against a tired Houston team struggling with form.
A stiffer test awaits on Saturday as Columbus faces off against Sporting Kansas City. The Crew have struggled on the road and a win would confirm that they have a little bit of swagger back headed into the stretch run. The playoffs are still a long shot, but after tonight they refused to fall farther behind.