Emilio Renteria capitalized on an error by goalkeeper Tally Hall in the first half, and the Columbus Crew took advantage of the short-handed for two late scores in a comfortable 3-0 victory on Saturday at Crew Stadium.
Columbus extended its lead atop the East to eight points over second-place New York. Houston is now winless (0-4-3) in its last seven MLS games as the Dynamo played their fourth match in 10 days following three SuperLiga tilts.
The Crew got on top on a blunder by Hall, starting his fourth straight game with Pat Onstad slowed by an abdominal strain, when Hall's misplay led to Renteria’s fourth goal of the season in the 34th minute. Hall stepped out of the penalty area on his left to field an innocent-looking through ball from Eddie Gaven that was too long for Renteria. As the ball approached, Hall backpedaled to try to field the ball in the penalty area, but the ball slipped through his hands, leaving Renteria with a clear path to the goal.
Renteria nearly made the Dynamo pay for another mistake in stoppage time of the first half, as he split two defenders and was able to chip a shot on the charging Hall, but this time the goalkeeper made the save.
Hall was again called into action nearly 20 minutes into the second half to save a point-blank Robbie Rogers effort at the near post to keep the Dynamo within reach. However, the visitors went down to 10 men after losing Boswell to a second caution in the 72nd minute when he battled Renteria for a ball. Boswell’s first yellow also came against Renteria in the 40th minute when he tried to slow down the Venezuelan striker.
Iro scored late with his left foot off a Guillermo Barros Schelotto free kick, and Griffit, the Frenchman who made his MLS debut two minutes earlier, netted a rebound goal to seal the result.
The big news for Houston was the absence of starting goalkeeper Onstad from an MLS game for the first time due to injury or suspension since April 19, 2008, when he had a shoulder sprain. Onstad aggravated an abdominal strain Friday and did not play as a precautionary measure. He started 72 consecutive league and playoff games, excepting Canadian national team duty.
Hall, who played the past three SuperLiga games (two goals allowed), was making his second MLS start. His first came May 22, also the last time the Dynamo won in MLS. Columbus had to make several changes due to the red-card suspension of defender Frankie Hejduk and central midfielder Brian Carroll’s sprained right ankle.
Danny O’Rourke subbed for Hejduk at right back, while Gaven moved from the right wing to the middle and Emmanuel Ekpo made his fourth start. Also, rookie left back Shaun Francis, who made his MLS debut off the bench last week vs. New York, got the start while Gino Padula was a healthy scratch.
Both teams play next on July 31. The Crew is at Chivas USA and Houston hosts host New York.
Houston Dynamo (5-8-4) vs. Columbus Crew (10-3-4)
July 24, 2010 -- Crew Stadium, Columbus OH
CLB -- Emilio Renteria 4 (unassisted) 34
CLB -- Andy Iro 3 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 6) 84
CLB -- Léandre Griffit 1 (unassisted) 90
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala, Corey Ashe (Danny Cruz 57), Richard Mulrooney (Dominic Oduro 79), Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Cam Weaver (Joseph Ngwenya 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad, Ryan Cochrane, Adrian Serioux, Anthony Obodai.
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Danny O’Rourke, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Shaun Francis, Robbie Rogers (Léandre Griffit 88), Adam Moffat, Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo (Jed Zayner 80), Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Emilio Renteria (Jason Garey 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Andy Gruenebaum, Eric Brunner, Gino Padula, Duncan Oughton.
HOU -- Mike Chabala (caution; Reckless Tackle) 2
CLB -- Danny O'Rourke (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Tactical Foul) 40
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (ejection; Second Caution) 72
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; C.J. Morgante
4th official: Hilario Grajeda
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial