Home-grown rookie Alex Dixon picked the perfect time to score his first professional goal, tallying deep into stoppage time to give the Houston Dynamo a dramatic 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.
Dixon picked up a clearance and found space at the top of a crowded penalty area before hitting a sterling left-footed strike to the far post, sending the 16,247 screaming Dynamo fans home happy and sending Houston into second place.
The Dynamo twice had to rally from a goal down to keep their unbeaten record at home against RSL intact. Fabian Espíndola scored in the first half to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, and 17-year-old Luis Gil finished in the 60th minute to put RSL ahead 2-1.
However, Brian Ching combined with Brad Davis to tie things at 1-1 in the second half, and Bobby Boswell headed in his fourth of the season in the 69th minute to bring the score level once again for the Dynamo.
Dixon's goal proved the difference in a physical, back-and-forth battle. RSL came out of the locker room as the aggressor and set a physical tone to the match, and they got the better of the early chances, with Espíndola and Kyle Beckerman both testing the goal in the first 10 minutes. Houston came close to opening the scoring twice within a matter of minutes, but both Geoff Cameron and Carlo Costly came up empty, the latter due to an offside call.
RSL made the Dynamo pay for a momentary lapse of concentration when Espíndola latched on to a deflected pass in the 28th minute and beat Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to the far post for a 1-0 lead at the half.
Houston turned the tables on RSL in the second half, coming out of the break firing on all cylinders. Their early aggression paid off following a beautiful combination involving Costly, Davis – who notched his league leading 12th and 13th assists on the night – and Ching that drew Houston level in the 47th minute. Costly laid a deft pass off to Davis at the top of the box. Davis fought through two defenders and squared a pass to the Houston captain, who poked a shot out of Rimando’s reach to tie the score at 1-1.
Luis Gil came close to putting RSL back in front after dancing past Hall, but the young midfielder hit his shot just wide. However, he did not miss a minute later the youngster split Hunter Freeman and Boswell to latch onto an Espindola cross and head home RSL’s second of the night.
With Houston frantic to pull the goal back, the Dynamo put their foot on the gas but came up empty on a handful of chances. Their fortunes changed in the 69th minute when Davis notched his second assist of the night by finding Boswell at the near post on a corner kick. The defender hit a glancing header that landed in the far-side netting to level the score at 2-2 with 20 minutes to go.
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando made key saves on a Ching header and a Cameron drive from distance before Dixon's heroics settled the battle. The Dynamo extended their unbeaten streak to 5 games (3-0-2).
Houston improves to 35 points and jumps into second place in the Eastern Conference ahead of a road match against the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday. RSL remain on 36 points and will travel to California to face Chivas USA next Saturday.
Real Salt Lake (10-7-6) vs. Houston Dynamo (8-7-11)
August 20, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
RSL -- Fabian Espindola 7 (Collen Warner 4) 28
HOU -- Brian Ching 5 (Brad Davis 12, Carlo Costly 1) 47
RSL -- Luis Gil 2 (Fabian Espindola 2) 60
HOU -- Bobby Boswell 4 (Brad Davis 13) 69
HOU -- Alex Dixon 1 (unassisted) 93+
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, Collen Warner (Andy Williams 46), Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil, Arturo Alvarez (Jean Alexandre 85), Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola (Paulo Araujo Jr. 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Rauwshan McKenzie, Blake Wagner, Kyle Reynish.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Alex Dixon 81), Geoff Cameron, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Calen Carr 92+), Carlo Costly (Cam Weaver 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Reckless Foul) 33
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution; Reckless Foul) 58
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson (caution; Reckless Foul) 60
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio (caution; Reckless Tackle) 67
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Adam Garner
4th Official: John McCloskey
Weather: Cleary-and-93 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial