A late equalizer from substitute Brian Mullan soured the long-awaited debut of the best new strike partnership in MLS on Saturday, as the Dynamo overcame two goals from Juan Pablo Ángel to salvage a 2-2 draw in front of 24,740 fans at Robertson Stadium.
Both of Ángel’s goals came off assists from new Red Bulls Designated Player Thierry Henry, who played every minute of his highly anticipated league debut. But it was Mullan who stole the headlines in the end, leaping over Red Bulls defender Carlos Mendes to nod home an Andrew Hainault cross in the 90th minute. Brad Davis also converted a first-half penalty kick for the Dynamo, who lost Lovel Palmer to a red card in the 44th minute and played down a man for the entire second half.
Ángel put the Red Bulls up in the 10th minute, but the dirty work went to Henry. The French international easily slipped Houston’s Adrian Serioux on the left side and a sent a cross into the penalty box, where Ángel won a battle with Houston defender Eddie Robinson and pounded a shot past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Houston rallied soon after, thanks to a foul by Mendes that buckled Joseph Ngwenya in the penalty box. Davis converted the ensuing penalty kick in the 24th minute. Davis was not as fortunate in the 38th, when he skied a second penalty kick attempt over the crossbar after a Tim Ream foul on Houston's Brian Ching in the box.
The Dynamo’s struggles continued just before the half, when Palmer was issued a controversial straight red card by referee Paul Ward for a foul on Mendes in a collision in the open field.
New York capitalized quickly with Houston down a man after the break. The Ángel-Henry combination connected again in the 58th minute, with Ángel taking a through pass from Henry in transition and beating Hall with a right-footed blast for his team-high 11th goal of the season. Ángel now trails Edson Buddle for the MLS scoring lead by one goal heading into Buddle’s match with the Galaxy against the Fire on Sunday.
But even Ángel’s offensive outburst was not enough to finish off the Dynamo, who rallied for their fourth draw in the last five league games. The last-gasp goal was the third of the season from Mullan, who came on for Ngwenya in the 77th minute.
Despite two assists for Henry, not everything went to plan for the former Barcelona star. He missed two prime scoring opportunities, one on an up-close chance in the 30th minute and another on a breakaway in the 42nd minute that he stunningly trickled wide of the post.
Houston returns to action next Thursday in the SuperLiga semifinal against Morelia, while the Red Bulls face Chicago on the road next Sunday.
New York Red Bulls (8-6-3) vs. Houston Dynamo (5-8-5)
July 31, 2010 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
NY -- Juan Pablo Angel 10 (unassisted) 10
HOU -- Brad Davis 4 (penalty kick) 24
NY -- Juan Pablo Angel 11 (Thierry Henry 1) 58
HOU -- Brian Mullan 3 (Andrew Hainault 1, Brian Ching 2) 90
New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Chris Albright, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Tony Tchani (Carl Robinson 89), Macoumba Kandji, Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler (Dane Richards 46), Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel.
Substitutes Not Used: Greg Sutton, Danleigh Borman, Mike Petke, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Jeremy Hall.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, Eddie Robinson, Adrian Serioux (Corey Ashe 68), Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz, Anthony Obodai (Richard Mulrooney 59), Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Joseph Ngwenya (Brian Mullan 77).
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Ryan Cochrane, Dominic Oduro, Cam Weaver.
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 44
NY -- Joel Lindpere (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 59
NY -- Dane Richards (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 71
NY -- Roy Miller (caution; Handball) 85
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Philippe Briere
4th official: Jair Marrufo
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial