Jesus Padilla and Lovel Palmer were the difference makers in Sunday night’s SuperLiga draw between the Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA.
Lovel Palmer opened up the scoring early in the first half when he scored off of a Dominic Oduro cross that was deflected by a Chivas USA defender. Palmer, who started the match as a center-attacking midfielder, was able to collect the ball, take his time, and coolly slot one home from inside the box.
The Dynamo had a number of half-chances throughout the first half, but were unable to convert any other attacks into significant scoring opportunities.
Despite controlling nearly all of the possession in the first half, the Dynamo defense was kept busy and Tally Hall was forced to make an impressive save against Jesus Padilla, who was substituted on early in the match following an injury to Jonathan Bornstein. Padilla found himself 1-on-1 with an onrushing Tally Hall who had run about 15 yards off his line to shut down the attack. Padilla struck a clean shot, but Hall was able to use his body to deflect it away from goal.
Following that save, Chivas USA looked a bit better and was able to maintain possession for spells of time. However, Houston was still the better team in the first half.
The second half was a bit more of the same for both teams. Chivas was able to build a few more attacks, but the Dynamo continued to shut them down and quickly regain possession. Houston had a few chances early in the half and a Lovel Palmer blast from about 35 yards tested Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
It was Chivas, though, who surprised with a goal in the 71st minute. Jesus Padilla was able to get on the end of a corner kick and bury in a goal with his head. On replay, the Dynamo defense broke down and Padilla was left completely unmarked; it almost looked like Houston was not ready for the kick. Tally Hall could do nothing to stop the shot and found themselves level with Chivas with only 19 minutes remaining.
The Dynamo came closest to scoring a winner, twice failing to score from inside the box. The first attempt came when Joseph Ngwenya missed a sitter of a header inside the six-yard box, and the second occurred in stoppage time when forward Cam Weaver was denied a winner after his shot bounced wildly off the pitch.
Tonight’s draw keeps Houston in good position to advance with four points ahead of Wednesday’s game and helps keep Chivas USA’s tournament hopes alive. As it stands now (ahead of the Pachuca/Puebla match), Houston leads the group with four points, Puebla is in second with three points, Chivas in third with one point, and Pachuca in last with no points.
The group could get very interesting depending on tonight’s Pachuca v. Puebla match. If Pachuca wins, they will have three points and will be hoping to beat Chivas USA midweek, theoretically giving them 6 points. If the two Mexican teams draw, Pachuca will only have one point and Puebla will have six, putting pressure on the Houston Dynamo to win their game on Wednesday. If Puebla wins, they will be guaranteed to advance beyond the group stage and won’t need to pick up any sort of result against Houston.
Regardless of what happens in the second of tonight’s games, the draw between Houston and Chivas USA keeps hopes alive for both teams and results in what could be a fantastic finish to group play.