For more than 83 minutes, the Houston Dynamo’s match against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday had a painfully familiar feel. Just like in Houston’s 1-0 loss to Philadelphia in the season opener, the Dynamo surrendered an early goal and found themselves dominating possession, but unable to break an organized Union defense.
The script changed in the 85th minute, however, when Geoff Cameron caught the Union defense before it could reset and fired a bouncing shot past MLS all-star goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón to pull out a very tough draw against a stingy defense.
“I thought we played well,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve won a lot of games 1-0, but we continued to play and probe, and it paid off. It took a little longer than we wanted, but I think we deserved to get something out of the game, considering the way it was played.”
For a team that has given up a number of points in games similar to the one that was unfolding, Houston kept attacking and finally turned some of its opponent’s misfortune in the Dynamo's favor.
Cameron’s goal came immediately after Sebastien Le Toux narrowly missed putting the game away, hitting the far post on a one-on-one breakaway with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. Cameron and company took little time in making Philadelphia pay.
Furthermore, Cameron’s goal likely saved the Dynamo from a sleepless night. Houston controlled the run of play, finishing the night with 61 percent of the possession, and attempted 434 passes to Philadelphia’s 284. Still, they struggled to find space to test Mondragón – who only faced two shots on goal all night.
“You have to give credit to them for the way they defended,” Kinnear said. “They always defend well and in big numbers. I was a little surprised we scored from the top of the box, because they were shutting that area down pretty well. We kept attacking wide and found some space, but unlike last week when the crosses were perfect, tonight we were just a pinch off. In the end you have to find the openings, and lucky for us, Geoff [Cameron] found one and made a good play, and it hit.”
With the late goal, the Dynamo can leave Philadelphia with the momentum the club created in a 3-1 win over the Seattle Sounders last weekend. More importantly, the club has another positive game to build on going forward. With three of Houston's next four games against teams that were outside the playoff picture entering the weekend, getting a result in a tough place like Philadelphia is something the club will gladly take, even if the Dynamo wanted more.
“The guys are confident tonight, but we’re not thrilled with the result, and I think we could’ve gotten more,” Kinnear said. “But we got the late goal and feel pretty good about that. I think moving forward we’re a confident group, and we’re motivated, which is good to see.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.