Expansion side shows progress in second friendly

Austin Aztex News Release –

Monday, March 9, 2009

AUSTIN, TX — In their second preseason friendly against a Major League Soccer opponent, the expansion Austin Aztex earned a 2-2 draw against the Houston Dynamo Saturday evening at Nelson Field.

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Silva scored Austin's first goal for the initial leadFor the first 20 minutes on a breezy but warm Saturday night, it was a dominating performance. The Aztex looked considerably sharper than the previous week’s game against New England. It was, however, the Houston Dynamo who looked the part of a team that had competed four days earlier in the CONCACAF Champions League with a steady barrage of shots fired at Aztex goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. In the 21st minute, it all changed.

On a quick Aztex counter attack forward Gifton Noel-Williams made a deft pass behind one Dynamo defender to fellow forward Sullivan Silva. Silva took the delivery in full stride, broke past another Dynamo defender, then avoided Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to score the first goal in the team’s USL-1 history.

Unfortunately for Silva, his celebration was short-lived as he went down with an injury just three minutes later and was replaced by Yordany Alvarez.

It got worse for the Aztex ten minutes later when Dynamo midfielder Geoff Cameron delivered a long pass to Brian Mullan, who settled the ball before lobbing it over a hard-charging Gallardo to tie the score up at 1-1.

In the 38th minute the chances of the Aztex securing victory appeared to take a severe blow when forward Noel-Williams was sent off after receiving his second yellow card on a controvercial call. The 4,177 in attendance, including a large contingent of Houston supporters, who saw an extremely classy move by Houston Head Coach Dominic Kinnear.

Kinnear walked over to the Aztex bench and spoke with his counterpart, Aztex Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I told him that we wanted to play all 11,» Kinnear said following the game. «It’s an exhibition so it doesn’t do either team any good to play with a man down.”

Midfield Hector Quintanar replaced Noel-Williams.

Despite the absence of Noel-Williams, the Aztex continued with a solid attack during the remainder of the first half. It paid off in injury time. That’s when Dynamo keeper Hall made a nice save on a shot from Aztex forward Kyle Brown. However, in the scramble for the deflection, Houston’s Wade Barrett attempted to fend off an attacking Eddie Johnson of the Aztex. Barrett beat Johnson to the ball, but scored an own goal. When the whistle blew, the Aztex led 2-1 heading into the break.

In the second half the Dynamo again came out firing at Gallardo. Just two minutes in and Houston’s Eric Quill fired a blast that avoided the Aztex keeper to tie up the score at 2-2.

The Dynamo wasn’t done. Gallardo, however, was equal to the challenge as he made multiple saves throughout the rest of the match.

The Aztex also had several shots on goal, the best coming in the 87th minute when Alvarez blasted a shot from 30 yards out that avoided the Houston defenders and goalkeeper only to carom harmlessly off the left post.

When the final whistle blew the Aztex didn’t have the taste of victory, but it was without question a hard-earned tie, 2-2.

With the valuable lessons learned from last week’s defeat against the New England Revolution and another solid week of practice, Heath said he expected this type of performance from his team.

«I thought we would be better and we were. We had some good performances out there tonight including some of the younger guys. Sullivan Silva can be a good player. Jarius Holmes can be a good player. For being just 12 days in, I’m pleased with the result.»

Kinnear said he was impressed by the Aztex. «They were a good, tough, physical team. They were up for it tonight. I think they’ll have a good season.»

Heath said he hopes that’s true and based on what he saw tonight, his team is headed in the right direction.

“A lot of the things we’ve been working on I saw on the pitch tonight. There are a lot of things I’m happy with. I’m quite pleased with the performance tonight.”

The Aztex wrap up preseason MLS action next Saturday night (March 14) against current MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm at Nelson Field.