HOUSTON - The Union weren't able to kick the Houston Dynamo when they were down.
The Dynamo came into Saturday night's match against the Union in the midst of offensive struggles of historic proportions. But Ricardo Clark's header in the 59th minute not only snapped a team-record scoreless streak of 388 minutes, it also led Houston to a 1-0 victory.
"It was a tough, physical game - just a heartbreaker really," said Union forward Aaron Wheeler, who in his first-ever Major League Soccer start had two of the Union's three shots on goal.
"We didn't defend collectively as a group and we left a guy open in the box," said Union team manager John Hackworth. "Credit Houston, they were pushing the whole game. They were really trying to get on the board and they broke through in the second half."
The Dynamo (7-6-5) were winless in their seven previous contests and scoreless in their previous three. But Clark's score, off an assist from Jermaine Taylor, ended all that in front of 21,300 fans.
The Union, meanwhile, saw their five-game unbeaten streak ended. It was the second longest in club history.
"I think we're fine," said Hackworth, whose team hosts Chivas USA Friday. "This is a tough league. This was our third game in eight days. It's tough."
The Union (7-6-6) were again without leading scorer Jack McInerney and Keon Daniel, who are both gone on international duty, playing in this month's CONCACAF Gold Cup. Adding to the empty cupboard for the Union were injuries that kept starting midfielder Danny Cruz (hip) and Michael Farfan (ankle) sidelined.
"It was a great opportunity for some of our younger guys and I have no problem with how they played," Hackworth said.
Houston was without starters Corey Ashe and Will Bruin, who were with the U.S. national team, while Kofi Sarkodie was suspended and Brad Davis was out with an injury.
The Union were coming off back-to-back games in which they saw leads slip away and turn to ties in stoppage time. No such late drama in this one, however.