Defender Dan Gargan headed a late equalizer for Toronto as the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC drew 1-1 Thursday night at BMO Field. Brian Ching had headed the visitors into the lead off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.
The game was marred when Toronto designated player Julian de Guzman and Houston’s Joseph Ngwenya were both ejected in the 62nd minute. The scuffle resulted when Ngwenya and TFC defender Nana Attakora briefly grappled after Ngwenya kept running the ball goalward, after not hearing the whistle blown ending the play. De Guzman leapt in and put his hand on Ngwenya’s face.
The draw extends Toronto's MLS unbeaten streak to seven games in MLS action. The Dynamo were hampered by the unavailability of leading assist man Brad Davis, forced from the lineup for the first time this season with a left hip-flexor strain.
The game promised some good action early on. Just two minutes in, Ching headed a looping Danny Cruz free kick inches wide of the Toronto net. Toronto responded a minute later, when De Guzman almost put the home side ahead when he fired wide after Chad Barrett's head-on shot attempt was blocked.
From then on, the battle between both sides was waged largely throughout the midfield, with no team getting clear possession of the ball. Toronto's best moves came just before halftime. Barrett found De Rosario on the edge of the six-yard box. DeRo flicked a pass onto Jacob Peterson, who fired into the side netting from close range.
Just before the whistle signaled the end of the first half, Toronto huddled in Houston’s box for the corner kick, forcing Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad to make a couple of good saves to keep his team level. The game continued on the same first-half tune during the second 45, but things began to heat up around the hour of play and did not cool down until the end.
In the 58th minute, Brian Mullan sprang past the Toronto defense after receiving a nice through pass from Bobby Boswell. Mullan slotted in a low shot past goalkeeper Stefan Frei, but the linesman ruled the Dynamo forward offside, though replays showed otherwise.
Fifteen minutes later, with both sides playing with 10 men after Ngwenya’s and De Guzman’s ejections, Ching found the go-ahead goal off a corner from Cruz. It looked as if Houston would go ahead by two just a minute later. Houston's Lovel Palmer drove the ball from 25 yards out after Ching laid off a pass, but Frei dove and made a spectacular one-handed save.
Not to be outdone, Onstad made a great save of his own in the 83rd minute, when he tipped fellow countryman De Rosario’s volley over the bar. On the ensuing corner, however, Gargan headed a ball home from well on the right side and into the far post.
As the game closed and Toronto went for the win, more shoving occurred. This time, it was TFC's Amadou Sanyang that was the player punished, receiving a red card for drawing his second yellow of the match.
With the draw, Toronto, now 5-4-4 with 19 points, moves within five of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus and New York. They next host the Colorado Rapids on July 10. Houston, now 5-7-3 with 18 points, played its third game in just six days and currently sits in a three-way tie for fourth in the West with Dallas and San Jose. The Dynamo will face Chivas USA at home in U.S. Open Cup action on July 6.
Houston Dynamo (5-7-3) vs. Toronto FC (5-4-4)
July 01, 2010 -- BMO Field, Toronto ON
HOU -- Brian Ching 3 (Danny Cruz 2) 73
TFC -- Dan Gargan 1 (Fuad Ibrahim 1) 84
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault, Ryan Cochrane, Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz, Lovel Palmer, Joseph Ngwenya, Corey Ashe (Eddie Robinson 76), Brian Mullan (Dominic Oduro 65), Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Tally Hall, Richard Mulrooney, Francisco Navas Cobo, Adrian Serioux.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Nick Garcia (Fuad Ibrahim 80), Jacob Peterson (O’Brian White 46), Amadou Sanyang, Julian De Guzman, Nick LaBrocca (Gabe Gala 72), Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett.
Substitutes Not Used: Jon Conway, Ty Hardin, Martin Saric, Maksim Usanov.
TFC -- Amadou Sanyang (caution; Reckless Tackle) 53
TFC -- Nick Garcia (caution; Reckless Foul) 59
HOU -- Joseph Ngwenya (ejection; Violent Conduct) 62
TFC -- Julian De Guzman (ejection; Violent Conduct) 62
TFC -- Nana Attakora (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 62
TFC -- Dan Gargan (caution; Shirt Removal) 85
TFC -- Amadou Sanyang (ejection; Second Caution) 94+
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Belleau, Eric Boria
4th official: Geoff Gamble
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial