J Hall 58'
|HOUSTON DYNAMO||0||1||1||Crevalle 90'+4|
|Substitutions||Osorio for Silva 73'
Wiedeman for Earnshaw 86'
Henry for Emory 89'
|Crevalle for Moffat 41'
Camargo for Davis 45'
Brunner for Barnes 66'
Seconds away from the win, and somehow TFC manages to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. A 58th minute strike courtesy of Jeremy Hall, wasted in the blink of an eye. Sure, the Reds may have been helped by some questionable refereeing, including a rather dubious red card to Jermaine Taylor, but once again the late goal curse strikes again as Warren Crevalle struck with the last play of the match to seal a point for the 10-men Dynamo.
But give the Reds credit where it's due though, this was an attacking team, with much intent. The Dynamo, one of the class sides of the MLS, were kept largely silent thanks to the partnership of captain Darren O'Dea and the young defender Gale Agbossoumonde in central defence. Joe Bendik, after playing out of his mind last week, got a rather easy assignment today as the defence, despite massive concerns about the injuries plaguing it -- and the worries on Ryan Nelsen's mind isn't going away with Logan Emory going down late in the game.
As for the attack? Well, it definitely had its way with a very disorganized Houston defence, which was at sixes and sevens for most of the match, which was upgraded to sevens and eights when Taylor was sent off. This usually means Robert Earnshaw would have a field day, right? Not today: the Welsh striker's 10th minute strike rung off the crossbar, and for most of the match he would struggle to find something. Not that he could complain about lack of service, mind you -- while there were moments he wasn't getting the feed from the mid, when Luis Silva came to play, that argument went out the window.
Earnshaw got his chances all right, and in the 51st minute, if not for the linesman's flag, he would have had his goal after Silva bulldozed through what seemed to be a dozen Houston defenders, and got the pass to him. It was frustrating, but the young Angeleno (that's what they call people from Los Angeles...the more you know) would make even more magic just seven minutes later, helping to screen Tally Hall to allow Jeremy Hall to score his second MLS goal ever in the 58th minute. While fans celebrated, some probably rubbing their eyes wondering if that was actually Hall scoring the goal...and yes it was.
Silva was removed ten minutes later, and Houston saw an opening...but again, with 10 men, was hard to execute anything. His replacement Jonathan Osorio proved quite capable in stead, and even the introduction of Andrew Wiedeman late didn't blunt the attack. Logan Emory went down with a minute left of regular time, and was replaced by Doneil Henry...and all seemed well, until THAT moment, of course. But more on that later.
But while Earnshaw was having trouble scoring all day, Justin Braun did his best to cover. Solid throughout the entire match, he and Silva made chance after chance, going into the box and running at Houston 'keeper Tally Hall -- a number of headers right into the Dynamo stopper proved the point. And that somehow rubbed off on the rest of the team, with even Reggie Lambe actually looking threatening for long periods of time, and given the fact that he could be on the chopping block when the promised relief arrives, he looked every bit the part of a man playing for his job, earning a free and a card on Crevalle in the 54th minute after he ran past two defenders.
Hogan Ephraim? Oh yeah...him. Showed a bit of brilliance, but again was largely ineffective. Had a few shots at goal, but really nothing to write home again.
The Reds, as said before, largely had the vaunted Houston offense at an impasse -- and the red card, added on with the loss of Brad Davis to a groin injury at half, and the loss of Adam Moffat just before that, definitely hurt the Houston attack. It would take something special to break through, and somehow they found it; O'Dea with his first mistake of the match conceding a corner, and on the ensuing kick somehow the ball found its way past Bendik to even it up. Stunned silence filled the stadium, followed by the sound of facepalm across Canada (including one from the living room of a Northwest Calgary home...oh wait, that's me). The whistle went, and that was that...another draw.
We can only go so many times to the "oh, this is better than last year when we had less points" well, but it's definitely getting irksome to see so many games lost to last minute brain farts. This came could have had so much more, and TFC fans would be heading to the bars and the trains and buses all that much happier, if only that defence had just held out for another 30 seconds to a minute. It was a full-on performance from TFC that definitely deserved the full three points; even at full strength, the Dynamo never looked like they were going to break through. They had their moments, but the makeshift backline kept held out...even Ryan Richter had a game to remember there, something that surely no one expected.
Maybe it could have been just a little different, even if just one of Earnshaw's or Braun's many chances had gone in along with Jeremy Hall's. As for the late goal curse...anyone know a good feng shui master? Or maybe an exorcist? Or maybe you are one? If you are, please show yourself before both Montreal visits on Wednesday and New York next week, we'd definitely like to hear from you!
* * *
WTR'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Kick to the Groin: Darren O'Dea
||93 minutes of brilliance undone.
|Kick to the Groin: Fans who stayed home
||In Western Calgary, BBQ in shorts happen in 3 degrees!
| Golden Trophy: Luis Silva
||This kid's a star I tells ya.|
|Kick to the Groin: Drew Fischer||Bad calls, and a few no calls...still bad.|
| Golden Trophy: Gale Agbossoumonde
||Wow, just wow. Stunning. Well done, lad.
| Golden Trophy: Justin Braun
||Hello Brauny, where have you been all my life?|
|Shots on Goal||16||7|
|Shots on Target||8||4|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||72||65|