Wade Barrett was but the apprentice the last time he left Dominic Kinnear. On Friday night, however, the Houston Dynamo coach beat his old mentor at his own game in a smash-and-grab victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium.
Barrett learned his trade under Kinnear, who led the former United States international through a late renaissance in his playing career at the Quakes and helped guide him seamlessly through the sticky transition into coaching.
“I learned more from [Kinnear] than anybody else,” Barrett told reporters following Houston’s 2-1 triumph. “I spent the best years of my playing career under Dominic and he gave me my first chance in coaching…He’s been a huge influence.”
Kinnear doesn’t exactly preach his defense-oriented tactics like a religion but his counter-attacking style left a lasting impact on Barrett, who was an assistant manager for four years under the forty-nine-year-old.
“I try to take some of the strongest things from those that I’ve been around and mesh that with my ideas on the game and my approach,” Barrett said. “Dominic has certainly played a huge part in that.”
This is the first time the two faced each other as managers since Kinnear left Houston in 2014, with Barrett recently taking over the interim job for the Dynamo.
Houston have been starved for results in recent weeks, being winless in eight previous matches, and relied tonight on last-ditch defending and counter-attacking that Kinnear himself could admire to scrape three points from San Jose. Although the Dynamo were on the ropes for the majority of the match, withstanding eighteen shots from a dominant Quakes team, early goals in each half were enough to seal their first road victory in over a year.
Maybe I taught Wade too much. pic.twitter.com/zHNLji7SdJ
— Ben Crook (@TheBenCrook) August 20, 2016
“The team needed a win right now,” Barrett said. “We’ve been really close in some other games and have played well enough to get the win, but it just hasn’t been there for us. I’ve been really pleased with the progress that we’ve made over the past couple months but we hadn’t gotten the reward for a lot of our good play — the effort, the energy, and attitude, everything that I’ve tried to bring to the team.”
Knowing Kinnear’s style helped give Barrett and edge, with Houston sitting deep and soaking up pressure, drawing the Quakes out of their comfort zone before pouncing on the break.
Although the home side came bursting off the blocks as Alberto Quintero dragged a low effort just wide of the post from close range, Ricardo Clark stunned Avaya Stadium with an early opener. Cristian Maidana made a fantastic tackle in the middle to nip a Quakes counter at the bud and swung a low cross into the middle for Clark to convert from the middle of the box.
“[The early goal] was something we have been lacking in a lot of games where we’ve had good looks but haven’t been able to find the net and get that early goal. Tonight, we withstood a bunch of pressure. It was not a perfect game from our side of things but it’s a perfect result,” said Barret.
Most of the Quakes’ attacks were funneled down the right given the absence of injured Simon Dawkins, with Quintero and Cordell Cato combining well on the opposite wing. Cato nearly pulled the home side level with a low effort straight from six yards out on the end of Quintero’s through ball but at Joe Willis was equal to it.
Quincy Amarikwa came close with a spectacular volley, lashing David Bingham’s long-ball wide of the post from straight out of the air, but the Quakes lacked the presence of a playmaker in the middle to build-up play in a more organized fashion. Houston were happy to defend cross after cross, the disappointing majority of which never made it past the first post.
That is not to say the Quakes suffered a lack of opportunities. They were unusually wasteful in front of goal, frustrated by a fantastic performance by Joe Willis in goal. The backup goalkeeper saved Shea Salinas’ a powerful header with a smart stop earlier in the second half and launched the counter-attack from which Houston would subsequently double their lead. The Dynamo won a deep free-kick down the left, from which David Horst ghosted in behind the lines to head home a Cristian Maidana’s gorgeous cross.
Wondo nearly pulled one back for the Quakes moments later, connecting with a near-post cross from the right, yet Willis pulled out another fantastic reflex save to block the ball and paw it away off the goal-line. The twenty-eight-year-old keeper made multiple fine saves to defend Houston’s lead and Victor Bernardez’s fifty-fourth-minute goal proved to be naught but consolation.
Having bombarded Houston’s goal for the majority of the match, the Quakes left the game somewhat stunned that they had been defeated by the bottom team in the Western Conference, a loss that represents an obvious wasted opportunity in regards to their playoff hopes.