It was one of those games where as a Columbus Crew SC fan, you pull your hair out at the 1-0 loss, but as a manager or player, you can't be too disappointed with the performance in the first game of the Major League Soccer season.
For the fourth year in a row the Black and Gold opened the MLS season on the road, but for the first time in the last two years, Crew SC fell in the campaign's first contest against the Houston Dynamo.
The loss didn't come due to a lack of chances created as Columbus had 18 shots to the Dynamo's eight and had a six to three advantage of shots on target. In the end, it came down to finishing the opportunities. 1-0 to Houston.
The first half was all-in-all void of chances. The Dynamo took advantage of a free kick out wide of the Crew SC goal, forcing goalkeeper Steve Clark to make a acrobatic near post save, but really didn't challenge the keeper otherwise.
The Black and Gold had nearly 55-percent of the possession at halftime, but no real chances to speak of in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half was different as Columbus came out with a fire in its belly.
Within the opening seven minutes, Crew SC had two golden chances to open the scoring. Tony Tchani and winger Kristinn Steindorsson, who started in place of the suspended Justin Meram, played a nice give-and-go, but Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric was quick off his line and Tchani was not decisive enough to make the chance count.
Two minutes later, Ethan Finlay got the ball out wide and placed a brilliant cross on the head of striker Kei Kamara. The target man's headed effort was a good one, but a big save from Deric kept the score level and zero.
In the 64th minute, Steindorsson had perhaps the chance of the game for the Black and Gold. The ball fell to the winger as he came inside in the box and he hit it first time towards the back post, but Deric was there again with a diving save to keep the clean sheet.
It was a quick response by Hoston to take the 1-0 lead, which ultimately led to the three points. Kofi Sarkodie got the best of left back Waylon Francis one v. one and delivered a low cross into the Crew SC box. Forward Giles Barnes made a run from the far side and redirected the cross into the net to give his side the goal advantage.
In the 71st minute, maestro Federico Higuain nearly equalized for Columbus. His strike from outside the 18-yard box pinged off the crossbar and was covered up by the Dynamo.
The last chance for Crew SC to pull level came on a late free kick in the 90th minute. Second half substitute Ben Speas delivered a dangerous ball to the back post where a wide open Kamara could only head the ball well wide of Deric's net.
Columbus will take pride in their effort on the road to start the year ahead of next week's clash against rivals Toronto FC. The Reds defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 earlier in the day, putting them up in the standings heading into next week's match.