For the first time all season the Dynamo earned back to back positive results following a 1-1 draw on the road against Toronto FC. The Dynamo traveled to Toronto for ESPN’s Thursday night MLS Game of the Week.
Both teams managed to score in the second half with headers off of corner kicks. The game finished with the Dynamo fielding ten men to Toronto’s nine following a pair of fights in the last 45 minutes of the game. Toronto received seven cards in the game to Houston’s one.
Toronto FC fielded their standard lineup while Houston was forced to contend with another set of fresh injuries. Forward Luis Angel Landin did not travel with the team after picking up a knee injury against Miami FC in Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup and midfielder Brad Davis, Houston’s best play so far this season, did not travel after picking up a left hip flexor injury during team practice on Wednesday.
The injuries forced Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear to move some players around and, dealing with player fatigue from three matches in six days, meant the coach had to be a bit creative with his team selection. Coach Kinnear fielded his standard 4-4-2 but decided to start Josephy Ngwenya in the central attacking midfield role that Brad Davis has lately occupied. Danny Cruz and Corey Ashe started on the outside of the midfield while the two Brians, Ching and Mullan, started up top in attack. In defense, Coach Kinnear started Chabala, Boswell, Cochrane, and Hainault, opting to rest Eddie Robinson’s tired legs.
For Brian Mullan, typically an outside midfielder for Houston, playing up top was obviously not a comfortable spot for him. A number of times he would possess the ball either inside the box or on the edge of the area and would pass the rather than take a shot on goal.
Mullan’s reluctance tp shoot, along with the Dynamo having trouble sustaining build-up play and Dwayne De Rosario’s inability to do it all by himself, led to a scoreless first half. Both teams had chances and both goalkeepers came up big, but neither team was able to really break down the other. Toronto FC, however, had the best chance at the end of the half when a free kick was curled in from just wide of the 18-yard box and fell to two Toronto players who could not put a foot on it. Joseph Ngwenya was able to clear the ball out about 30 yards to Julian De Guzman who ripped a shot only to be stopped by a diving Pat Onstad. The goalkeeper was unable to hold onto the shot but Toronto was unable to capitalize on the ricochet.
While not really doing anything overly significant in the first half, Houston was able to stay in the game and maintain the draw leading into the locker room.
Both teams came out of the second half ready to attack and ready to take control of the match. The second half was wide open until defender Bobby Boswell took an unexpected and long run through the middle of the pitch before sliding a pass to Mullan as the forward ran into the box. Mullan was able to get past the defender and hit a one-timer into the back of the net only to be called offside by the linesman. Replays clearly showed that Mullan was onside but that Brian Ching was maybe a foot offside. Ching was not involved in the play and neither player should have been called for being offside. It was a bad call from the linesman but it showed Houston they could score if they attacked Toronto’s defense.
The next attack in the game occured in the 61st minute when Joseph Ngwenya and Nana Attakora collided after the whistle blew. Attakora put his hands on Ngwenya’s neck and the forward retaliated by trying to hit Attakora’s hands away. A shoving match ensued that included most field players from both teams and a few of Toronto’s substitutes who were warming up nearby. Ngwenya and Toronto’s Julian De Guzman, a quick contributor to the scuffle, were both shown straight red cards and ejected from the game.
Houston was the first team to capitalize on the increased space in the field and used the energy from the scuffle to attack Toronto’s back line. Danny Cruz earned a series of corners and the Dynamo were finally able to open up the scoring in the 73rd minute when Cruz took a corner from the left side of goal that met Brian Ching who glanced a header into the back of the net.
It was Ching’s third goal since returning from the national team on May 29 and Cruz’ second assist in six starts this season.
Toronto leveled the score eleven minutes later after Dan Gargan headed a ball into the edge of the goal off of a Fuad Ibrahim corner kick. Coach Kinnear will certainly not be happy with his team conceding another late goal and with Pat Onstad again being out of position.
Unfortunately for Onstad, he follows up stupendous saves like his goal-saving tip prior to the game-tying goal with sloppy mental play. Mental mistakes and poor positioning have been reoccuring themes this season for the veteran keeper.
The game looked to end all square until Amadou Sanyang was ejected deep into stoppage time for a second yellow after fighting with Ryan Cochrane.
The Dynamo should be happy with taking points home after a tough game against Toronto, but one has to wonder how happy Coach Kinnear will be with his team and the continued lapses in judgement they are showing. If they could simply focus for 90 minutes and play consistently strong, the Dynamo could return back to the winning ways they were once accustomed to.
Key Battle Of The Night
Dwayne De Rosario v. Pat Onstad
The best matchup of the night and the source of most of the games excitement resulted from the former Dynamo and Candian international teammates. De Rosario was easily Toronto FC’s best player and he forced Pat Onstad to make a few impactful saves. Dynamo fans have come to expect Onstad to make big saves and the aging keeper came up big a few times tonight. Ultimately though, Onstad was beaten by one of De Rosario’s teammates, but these two men battled hard with each other all game long.
Houston — Brian Ching 3 (Danny Cruz 2) 73
Toronto — Dan Gargan 1 (Fuad Ibrahim 1) 84
Houston Dynamo — Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault, Ryan Cochrane, Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz, Lovel Palmer, Joseph Ngwenya, Corey Ashe (Eddie Robinson 76), Brian Mullan (Dominic Oduro 65), Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 90).
Toronto FC — Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Nick Garcia (Fuad Ibrahim 80), Jacob Peterson (OBrian White 46), Amadou Sanyang, Julian De Guzman, Nick LaBrocca (Gabe Gala 72), Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (Round 4)
Tuesday, July 6, vs. Chivas USA at Robertson Stadium
The Dynamo will host Chivas USA on Tuesday, July 6, in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. It will be the third of at least four meetings between the teams this season, with Houston taking both regular season meetings by shutout earlier this year. The Dynamo are 2-0 all-time in Open Cup quarterfinals, having reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2009.
Major League Soccer
Saturday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. vs. Columbus Crew, Robertson Stadium