HOUSTON DYNAMO 2 (Driver 11, Barnes 88)
STOKE CITY 0
STOKE CITY slipped to a 2-0 defeat in their opening pre-season friendly encounter in the United States on Wednesday evening.
Ironically enough it was two English born players who secured Dynamo victory with Oldham born Andrew Driver and former Derby County starlet Giles Barnes both on target for the hosts.
The Potters had opportunities of their own to get back into the game but they came and went with both Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch going agonisingly close prior to the interval.
Manager Mark Hughes named a strong starting line up at the BBVA Compass Stadium with Asmir Begovic ushering a back four that comprised of former Dynamo ace Geoff Cameron, skipper Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth and summer acquisition Erik Pieters.
The midfield quartet consisted of Michael Kightly, Charlie Adam, Steven Nzonzi and Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters.
England star Peter Crouch was chosen to spearhead the side with ex-Birmingham man Cameron Jerome playing just off of him.
The match was barely two minutes in by the time that Dynamo had carved open the City rearguard, but thankfully for the visitors Driver wasn’t able to divert the ball goal-wards after being cleverly freed by Cam Weaver.
The Texans had to wait just eight minutes longer for the first goal of the game however, as Driver confidently stepped up and dispatched a stunning free-kick beyond the reach of Begovic.
It was the Bosnian who remained the busier of the two ‘keepers during the early exchanges as he denied both Johnson and Adam Moffat with smart saves.
Whilst the heat and humidity was undoubtedly playing into the hands of the hosts, to the Potters’ credit they gradually settled down and began to cause the MLS side problems.
Cameron in-particular was proving to be a thorn in the side of his former employers with a series of bursting runs down the right flank.
In fact it was the United States international who flashed a dangerous ball across goal, seemingly straight into the path of Walters, though a Dynamo defender appeared from nowhere to divert the ball away from the expectant forward.
Charlie Adam displayed his class with a perfect through ball to Crouch soon after, but he was beaten to the ball by ‘keeper Tyler Deric, who was deputising for regular number one Tally Hall.
Both managers made changes during the break with Hughes introducing Jack Butland, Wilson Palacios, Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Kenwyne Jones from the bench.
Stoke were undoubtedly edging the possession stats with their new found passing game, but truth be told rarely threatened the Dynamo goal.
Substitute Whelan did well to control and beat a Dynamo defender shortly before the hour mark, but sadly his dink over the ‘keeper dropped over the bar, whilst Wilson hammered an effort way over from distance.
At the other end substitute Brian Ownby glanced an effort just wide of Butland’s right hand post, whilst Barnes rifled an effort wide of goal from 18-yards after latching onto a long punt forward.
Further changes were made by both teams, somewhat disrupting the flow of the game, but the hosts managed to find time to squeeze home a second goal right at the death courtesy of Barnes, who cut inside and curled a superb effort into the far corner of the net.
HOUSTON DYNAMO: Deric, Creavalle (Davis 66), Boswell (Taylor 46), Brunner (Ash 66), Chabala, Dixon, Moffat (Sarkodie 46), Clark (Garcia 46), Driver (Ownby 46), Weaver (Barnes 46), Johnson. Subs (Not Used): Hall, Salazar.
STOKE CITY: Begovic (Butland 46), Cameron (Keane 90), Shawcross (Wilkinson 66), Huth (Shotton 66), Pieters (Muniesa 66), Kightly (Etherington 79), Nzonzi (Wilson 46), Adam (Palacios 46), Walters (Cuvelier 79), Crouch (Jones 46), Jerome (Whelan 46).
Referee M Bourdeau | Attendance: 14,123