DC United survived a Texan storm to win at BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time and dump the Houston Dynamo out of contention for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Dynamo had been unbeaten at home since June, but were blown away by goals from United’s Taylor Kemp and Fabian Espindola. Though Giles Barnes pulled one back, substitute Eddie Johnson sealed the three points for Ben Olsen’s men.
While the Black-and-Red had already qualified for Major League Soccer's post-season, this result sealed the New York Red Bulls’ progression along with Houston’s demise.
The Orange Crush really should have taken the lead in the seventh minute, when a beautiful Barnes cross was screwed across the box by Andrew Driver. With Bill Hamid scrambling back to his feet and the goal gaping, Omar Cummings bizarrely attempted to square to Ricardo Clark instead of shooting and the danger was cleared.
As a downpour hammered the turf, DCU grew into the game, with numerous dangerous centres flashing in front of Tyler Deric finally providing Davy Arnaud with a back-post chance that was wasted.
However, with the weather showing no signs of improvement and lightning apparently imminent, referee Ismail Elfath elected to evacuate the pitch and delay proceedings on 22 minutes.
Returning after an extended stoppage, the visitors quickly took control and soon led.
Chris Pontius ran onto Espindola’s measured pass and though Deric smothered his prod, the ball broke to Kemp, who lashed beyond a pair of recovering defenders and into the net.
Next, Pontius battered an effort towards goal from further out but Deric brilliantly parried, and Espindola dragged his rebound away for a throw-in.
Houston were almost offered a route back into the game though, in sensational circumstances. A delivery from the right struck Bobby Boswell’s shoulder inside the area, ludicrously provoking a flag from the linesman. However, luckily for the ex-Dynamo defender, Elfath overruled his colleague and rejected all appeals for a penalty.
As the match progressed into the second half, both Nick DeLeon and Barnes missed the target before Hamid displayed his international credentials.
Driver skipped away from Kemp and laid the ball back to captain Brad Davis, who dummied for Barnes, but the All-Star custodian brilliantly swatted away the Englishman’s side-foot.
Deric then impressed by tipping away DeLeon’s sweep, but he was helpless when Espindola bore down on goal moments later, elegantly lobbing the 26-year-old and doubling United’s advantage.
Houston refused to concede defeat though, and after Davis had curled over, Clark clattered the crossbar from long range. A header saw the former come close again, but Hamid’s only test remained the earlier Barnes attempt.
Will Bruin instantly improved this statistic with a low drive upon his arrival from the bench, and when Sean Franklin tangled with Clark, Elfath eradicated his earlier decision and awarded a spot-kick which Barnes calmly tucked away.
As soon as Dynamo hopes were raised, though, Johnson moved in to obliterate them. The former Fulham man swiftly converted David Estrada’s pass after a glorious switch from the redeemed Franklin to end the contest.
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