Saturday, June 25, 2011

Houston Ties DC United 2-2 in MLS Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2011) The Houston Dynamo twice rallied from a one-goal deficit and used a dramatic 89th-minute goal from captain Brian Ching to pull out a 2-2 road tie against D.C. United on Saturday and take the season series from their Eastern Conference rival. Ching, making just his second start of the season, headed in a cross from Colin Clark as Houston earned its fifth tie in eight road games. Ching had also set up Houston’s first goal by drawing a penalty kick.

The Dynamo are now unbeaten in their last five games (4-0-1) against D.C. United and lead the all-time series 9-3-2. Houston won the season series with a 1-0-1 record thanks to a 4-1 win over D.C. on April 29.

D.C. United took the lead in the 31st minute, when Josh Wolff teed up Chris Pontius for a shot from outside the penalty area, and Pontius drove a right-footed shot inside the left post for his fifth goal of the season.

The Dynamo tied the game shortly before halftime when Je-Vaughn Watson set up Brian Ching in the penalty area, and Ching was tripped up by D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Brad Davis stepped up to the resulting penalty kick and drove it into the lower right corner for his second goal of the season, both from the spot.

The teams traded chances late in the first half, with Houston rookie Kofi Sarkodie clearing a shot off the goal line, before the Dynamo took over early in the second half. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had to make four saves in the first 25 minutes of the second half, including tipping a Danny Cruz shot against the crossbar. Cruz also came close to giving Houston the lead when he hit the outside of the post from a Colin Clark cross in the 64th minute.

Against the run of play, D.C. United took the lead in the 73rd minute. Midfielder Andy Najar dribbled the end line into the six-yard box, and when the Dynamo knocked the ball away from him, it deflected right to D.C. forward Charlie Davies, who snapped the ball into the empty net for his eighth goal of the season, tied for the league lead.

Having used substitutions on injury (Brad Davis) and illness (Corey Ashe), the Dynamo went to three forwards over the final 12 minutes with the introduction of Cam Weaver, and the team’s pressure finally paid off in the 89th minute. Brian Ching held the ball up in his own half of the field and fed it to Geoff Cameron streaking through the midfield. Cameron raced into the attacking half and passed to Colin Clark on the left, and Clark chipped a cross to the penalty spot, where Ching arrived to head it into the net with the help of a deflection to tie the game.

The tying goal was the third time this season the Dynamo have tied the game in the final 15 minutes (April 23 at Chicago, May 28 vs. FC Dallas) and, combined with the goal late in the first half, gives Houston a league-high 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of either the first or second half.

Forward Brian Ching made just his second start of the season due to injury and his first since the Dynamo’s April 2 match against the New York Red Bulls. His 90 minutes were a season high, and he factored in both Houston goals.

The Dynamo made five changes from last week’s lineup, including the third MLS appearances of the season for defenders Kofi Sarkodie and Jermaine Taylor and the fourth start of the year for midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson. Taylor and Watson played their first games after returning from national team duty with Jamaica.

For their Dynamo careers in all competitions, several players made milestone appearances, including: midfielder Brad Davis (180th appearance), defender Corey Ashe (150th appearance), midfielder Geoff Cameron (110th appearance), defender Andre Hainault (75th appearance), and forward Cam Weaver (50th appearance).

The Dynamo played without forward Calen Carr (concussion); midfielder Lovel Palmer (red card); and defender Eddie Robinson (MCL sprain).

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