Rookie midfielder Alex Dixon, a product of the Houston Dynamo Academy, scored a dramatic game-winning goal with almost the last kick of the game to give the Dynamo a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake Saturday night at Robertson Stadium. The win boosts the Dynamo into second place in the Eastern Conference.
The 21-year-old Dixon, from nearby Humble, Texas, entered the game as a substitute in the 81st minute. Deep into three minutes of stoppage time, he picked up a clearance at the top of the penalty area. Dixon cut to his left foot and curled a shot inside the far left-hand post for his first professional goal. The goal is tied for the latest game-winning goal in Dynamo regular-season history with Stuart Holden’s goal from October 15, 2008, against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The stoppage-time goal was Houston’s seventh game-winning or game-tying goal of the season to come in the final seven minutes. It came just three days after the Dynamo scored in the 90th minute to tie New England on Wednesday.
The come-from-behind result was the ninth of the season for the Dynamo, who are 2-6-7 when the opposing team scores the first goal. It was the first time all season Houston won when trailing at halftime (1-4-3).
The goal put a cap on a topsy-turvy night that saw Houston twice rally from one-goal deficits to tie against a Real Salt Lake club playing for a tie on the road. Despite Houston’s 19-8 shot advantage, RSL took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on strikes from Fabian Espindola and Luis Gil, but Houston rallied each time. In the 47th minute, Carlo Costly and Brad Davis combined to set up Brian Ching for a one-time finish in the penalty area, Ching’s fifth goal of the year. In the 69th minute, Davis served a near-post corner kick that Bobby Boswell headed inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
The Dynamo are now unbeaten in their last five games (3-0-2). Houston took seven points out of a possible nine (2-0-1) while playing three games in seven days this week. The Dynamo now get a week off before taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday in British Columbia.
Houston is now 4-1-5 in its last 10 games, dating back to June 25, and trails first-place Columbus by five points in the Eastern Conference. The Dynamo are now unbeaten in the last 12 matches captain Brian Ching has started (5-0-7), dating back to September 2010.
Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis had a milestone night, notching two assists to run his league-leading total to 13 for the season, a new career high. Davis also made the 171st start of his Dynamo career in all competitions, establishing a new club record. He had been tied with Pat Onstad.
Houston captain Brian Ching scored his fifth goal of the season to break a four-way tie for the team lead with Will Bruin, Geoff Cameron, and Cam Weaver. Ching has now scored four times in his last five games.
Defender Bobby Boswell set a new career high with his fourth goal of the season; his previous career high of three was set in his rookie season of 2005. Saturday was Boswell’s 185th MLS game, and the goal was the 10th of his MLS career.
The Dynamo remain unbeaten at home all-time against Real Salt Lake with a 7-0-1 mark. All seven wins have come by a single goal, including two scorelines of 4-3 and two scorelines of 3-2. Houston won the season series against Real Salt Lake, the 2010-11 CONCACAF runner-up, with a 1-0-1 record. The teams tied 0-0 in Utah on May 14.
The Dynamo played without forward Will Bruin (knee surgery) and midfielder Danny Cruz (quad).
HOUSTON DYNAMO HEAD COACH DOMINIC KINNEAR
On the match …
“I’m very happy, and it was a great ending. We had a lot of chances in that second half. Nick Rimando had a very good game. I’m happy for Alex [Dixon] to come in and make a difference. I’m happy for the guys. They showed great determination this week to come out of this week undefeated and score two goals late. We played well, keeping ourselves together.”
On Alex Dixon’s game-winning goal …
“I was happy for him. The kid has talent; we all know that. He has played important minutes for us. We brought him into the game in an important time on Wednesday. I’m happy he came over and celebrated with everyone, it was nice to see.”
On the team’s confidence in Alex Dixon …
“He plays well in practice. He has the athletic ability to be able to play and handle it. We always try and tell him when he is on the bench to not enjoy the game, but to watch it so when you come on, you know what to do. He is learning how to become a professional. It is only one goal, so we have to take it easy, but it certainly came at the right time, and it capped off a good week for us. I’m happy for him. Sometimes the criticism from the older players and myself can be harsh and honest, but he kept his chin up, and I always tell him that we will give you a chance to play on the field because we have confidence that you can help this team at any particular time. Some guys are hurt, and some guys are suspended, and it gives other guys the opportunity to play. If we didn’t have confidence in him, I don’t think we would call his name to go in and play. Tonight he definitely rewarded our confidence and faith in him.”
HOUSTON DYNAMO MIDFIELDER ALEX DIXON
On the game-winning goal …
“Last-minute game-winner, and we got the three points, so there are just a lot of emotions going around. I’m happy for the team, mostly, as we make a run for the playoffs, it’s a good three points.”
On the match …
“It means a lot to help the team build confidence. Like I said before, the most important thing is the team, and we are just trying to get to the playoffs and make our run.”