The scene was set for the Houston Dynamo to take their first road win of the season. They were up 1-0 coming out of halftime and had played with a man advantage since the 11th minute. But in the second half, for Houston things changed for the worse.
In the span of 12 minutes, the Dynamo saw two penalties called for Columbus and suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline in the late stages of the game. After evening the score on an 86th-minute Calen Carr goal – his first for Houston – the Dynamo appeared to miss out on a call that could have set up a penalty kick to possibly win the game, and it finished 2-2.
“There were some questionable calls that went against us,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We fought back late to get back in the game, and then I thought there was an easy penalty at the end there, but the ref didn’t call it.”
The call in question came minutes before the final whistle when Jermaine Taylor - who made his first start of 2011 at right back - sent a ball in for Cam Weaver. Columbus defender Sebastian Miranda headed the ball off his arm in the penalty box. Despite the contact, referee Chris Penso declined to blow his whistle.
It added insult to injury, as Houston's Weaver conceded a questionable penalty on a handball in the 64th minute, while Watson was whistled for a foul in the box just 12 minutes later. On both occasions, Andres Mendoza knocked home the kick, giving the Crew the lead despite Houston’s domination of possession and chances created.
“I thought the second looked like a penalty, the one with Je-Vaughn, but I couldn’t see the first one,” Kinnear said of the call on Weaver. “But the one at the end was on our side of the field, and that was a clear penalty.”
Questionable calls aside, despite being up a man for 79 minutes, the Dynamo found themselves in a similar position: looking for a late equalizer. For the eighth time this season, the Dynamo came through late when Carr’s strike turned what would have been a crushing defeat into something positive Houston can take home.
But even with the road point, the Dynamo will not be happy heading into Saturday night's match against San Jose.
“Disappointing,” Kinnear said when asked about his feelings about the result. “I hate saying that, but it’s disappointing.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.