The Houston Dynamo escaped La Chorrera, Panama Wednesday night with a point in the CONCACAF Champions League Group A standings – and their health, mostly – after a crazy game that included five red cards, a power outage, and projectiles thrown from the crowd. In the end, after a 12-minute delay during stoppage time, the Dynamo and Panamanian club Árabe Unido finished level at 1-1.
The Dynamo opened the game with an inexperienced lineup that included nine players with less than four years of professional experience and third-year midfielder Corey Ashe wearing the captain’s armband for the first time in his career. The early minutes set the tone for the game, as each team picked up a yellow card.
In the 11th minute, Árabe Unido defender David Daniels, filling in for the suspended Nahil Carroll, was shown a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Houston’s Kei Kamara, giving the Dynamo a one-man advantage. Árabe Unido actually came up with the next good chance, as Omar Camargo almost caught Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall off his line on a free kick expecting a cross, but Hall recovered to tip the ball over the crossbar. The Dynamo’s best chance to take the lead came in the 34th minute, when rookie Danny Cruz whipped in a cross from the right, but Kamara’s header bounced wide.
Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear brought on Stuart Holden at halftime for Geoff Cameron, hoping Holden could create a goal just as he did one week ago against Isidro Metapán. Things turned ugly soon, however, when Ashe sent in a cross and collided with Árabe Unido’s Andres Santamaria. After a considerable delay that saw Santamaria and his teammates begging for Ashe to be shown a card, referee Neal Brizan ejected Ashe, leveling the teams at 10 men apiece.
Things turned again in the 67th minute, when Carmago clotheslined Dominic Oduro and was shown his second yellow card of the game, reducing Árabe Unido to nine men, including only two defenders. The Dynamo took advantage just two minutes later on a long clearance out of the back that was misplayed by Santamaria. Kamara raced onto the ball and was in alone against goalkeeper Carlos Bejarano, beating the Colombian with a powerful shot straight up the middle.
Árabe Unido came back right away with a chance from a free kick, but Hall saved Angel Rodriguez’s shot easily. The Dynamo looked like they were headed for their first ever road win outside of the United States, but things turned ugly in the final 10 minutes. First, defender Andrew Hainault was shown his second yellow card of the game and ejected in the 81st minute.
Now in a 9 v. 9 game, Árabe Unido continued to press for the equalizer. In the 85th minute, tricky midfielder Jose Justavino juked into the box and laid a pass off for captain Orlando Rodriguez, but his shot at full stretch trickled wide. On the way upfield, Holden – who had taken the captain’s armband from Ashe – received first one and then another yellow card, apparently for dissent, within seconds of each other and was ejected for the first time in his career.
Now with a one-man advantage of their own, Árabe Unido finally capitalized in the first minute of five minutes of stoppage time, as Justavino again broke into the box and, with the ball bouncing high on the artificial turf, volleyed the ball across the six-yard box, where Orlando Rodriguez headed it in to tie the score. The goal ignited mass celebrations in the crowd and prompted the largest of several incidents of drinks and objects being thrown onto the field.
As the teams searched for a winning goal, the stadium lights – which had flickered briefly a few minutes earlier – went out completely, plunging the stadium into darkness. After a delay of more than 12 minutes during which fans held up cell phones and Dynamo players worried fans might come onto the field, play finally continued with less than half of the floodlights working, and full time finally came more than 20 minutes after the 90-minute mark.
The tie left both teams 1-0-1 in Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League, tied for the group lead. But the craziness continued after the final whistle, with the Dynamo remaining on the field until the stands were cleared. Once they reached the locker room, the stadium’s power went out again, and the Dynamo spent almost 20 minutes in the dark before making their way to the bus and back to Panama City.
Houston Dynamo (1-0-1) vs. Árabe Unido (1-0-1)
August 26, 2009 -- Estadio Agustín Muquita Sanchez
2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League -- Group A
HOU -- Kei Kamara 1 (unassisted) 69
DAU -- Orlando Rodriguez 3 (Jose Justavino 1) 91+
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Erik Ustruck, Ryan Cochrane (Bobby Boswell 78), Andrew Hainault, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Brian Mullan 72), John Michael Hayden, Geoff Cameron (Stuart Holden 46), Corey Ashe, Kei Kamara, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad, Wade Barrett, Ricardo Clark, Brian Ching
Árabe Unido -- Carlos Bejarano, David Daniels, Reynaldo Lewin, Andres Santamaria, Omar Camargo, Camilo Aguirre (Armando Cooper 46), Francisco Castañeda, Angel Rodriguez (Harold Cummings 72), Jose Justavino, Orlando Rodriguez, Victor Mendieta (Manuel Mosquera 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Jose Marin, Eduardo McTaggar, Yahir Medina, Erick Davis
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution) 4
DAU -- Omar Camargo (caution) 10
DAU -- David Daniels (ejection) 11
HOU -- Andrew Hainault (caution) 35
DAU -- Francisco Castañeda (caution) 42
HOU -- Corey Ashe (ejection) 55
DAU -- Andres Santamaria (caution) 62
DAU -- Omar Camargo (ejection; Second Caution) 67
DAU -- Manuel Mosquera (caution) 74
HOU -- Andrew Hainault (ejection; Second Caution) 81
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution) 82
HOU -- Stuart Holden (caution) 86
HOU -- Stuart Holden (ejection; Second Caution) 86
Referee: Neal Brizan (T&T)
Referee's Assistants: Simon Baptiste (T&T); Ainsley Rochard (T&T)
4th Official: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Weather: Cloudy-and-80 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
DYNAMO GOALKEEPER TALLY HALL
"It was a difficult environment to play in. I felt the calls didn’t exactly go our way, but my guess is they probably feel that happened to them as well. They work very hard on and off the ball, so it was difficult for us to find our rhythm of play. I think that was their tactic coming out, and hats off to our guys for getting the goal to take the lead. I thought Kei did a great job of getting in. I think Kei [Kamara] and Dom[inic Oduro] have to get a special mention. I think they did a great job tonight. They worked their butts off challenging for the ball and winning most of what they did. It made it easy for me, because those guys are always out there and we could relieve pressure."
"Then we’re down to eight men late in the game away in kind of a crazy stadium, and we give up a goal, and it’s tough. I think it was a hard-fought point. It’s always difficult to play here, so I think we’re coming out with high spirits. We did get a point, and we’re looking good in the group. We’re disappointed that we gave up a late goal, but happy enough with the result."
FORWARD KEI KAMARA
"It was really crazy. We kind of expect stuff like that when we come down here. We tend to play kind of physical in the U.S., so when we come over here, they like playing kind of stylish football and not be touched, and that’s not how we play. We get in and we hit each other, but they’re not used to it, and the referee’s not used to it either, so it was rough today with all the cards, and it was a physical game."
"It was a good ball from the middle, and when the defender was going up, I kind of knew the ball was going to go over his head, so my thought was to run right past him. When the ball passed him, I took the first touch and saw the keeper backing up instead of coming out, so I was like, ‘I got this,’ and I was able to finish it. I thought it was going to take us out with three points, but we were unfortunate at the end."
"It takes a little bit away from the trip, but coming out here it’s always going to be tough: the fans, the players on the field. It’s always going to be tough. We come here and we try to take points away, whether it’s three or it’s one point. We just don’t want to come out here and go back with zero points. We’re happy with the point, because we get to host them later at our house. Pachuca came over here and they got pounded, and we came over and were able to get away with 1-1, so that’s good, and it’s going to be a different result when they come to Robertson Stadium."