Despite playing almost 80 minutes with a one-man advantage, it was the Houston Dynamo who were forced to come back from behind and grab a late equalizer against the Columbus Crew.
Crew defender Emmanuel Ekpo saw red inside the first fifteen minutes of the match after hitting Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat in the face following a challenge for the ball. The call was a bit harsh, especially so early in the game, but it set the tone for the night, resulting in a match that was dictated by poor officiating, harsh challenges, and a lack of conviction from the Dynamo.
The real difference maker in tonight’s match was the two penalties called against the Houston Dynamo in the second half. Andres Mendoza, who was quiet most of the night, stepped up and converted both penalty kicks, giving the Crew a 2-1 lead, despite playing one man down.
The Dynamo had their chances, but saw their efforts thwarted by Columbus’ defense which hunkered down and shut down Houston’s attacking third following Ekpo’s ejection. Utimately, it was Calen Carr who proved hero for Houston, coming off the bench to score the game-tying goal with just minutes left. It was Carr’s first goal for Houston and marked his first goal for any team since going out injured for an extended time due to complications resulting from a concussion.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear could blame the officials for tonight’s final score, but his blame should fall on his players’ shoulders, who seemed more comfortable playing with their backs to goal, passing back to the defense instead of trying to play the ball forward.
The possession stat may be telling (79% Houston, 21% Columbus), but the most important fact of the night was that Houston failed to win a game in which they had a one-man advantage for almost 80 minutes.
There has been talk in Houston’s fan base about what it would be like to make the playoffs as the only team in league history to do so without winning a game on the road, but none of that seems to matter right now. If the Dynamo continue with the uninspired style of play fans have seen over the last two weeks, then there won’t be any post-season games for this team to play.
If that happens, then the tough questions will be asked, and everyone from the owners to the players will have to respond then.