Ricardo Clark scored his first goal since returning to the Houston Dynamo and it proved a big boon to their playoff hopes.
After 78 minutes of tepid soccer, the midfielder got just enough of a touch on a close Brad Davis low cross and hit it to the far post, past New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Clark found a way to keep his footing on the rain-soaked surface to get the winning touch.
Houston added a second in the 93rd minute from Boniek García to seal a crucial 2-0 win over the New England Revolution.
The win runs Houston’s home unbeaten streak to 23 MLS regular-season games, good for second all-time, and more importantly keeps the Dynamo, who improved to 49 points, in playoff position; staying one point clear of the Columbus Crew, who got a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union earlier in the evening.
The late goals were the bright spots in the first MLS game played in the rain at BBVA Compass Stadium, with Dynamo and Revs playing an understandably choppy match with few chances.
Both teams struggled to find their footing in the first half, both figuratively and literally, as the rain and frequent use of the field made for a slick surface.
The action picked up in the 18th minute when Davis was whistled for a foul on Honduran international Jerry Bengtson and Benny Feilhaber woke the match up. The World Cup veteran, who made his first start since September 1, curled a dangerous 30-yard free kick over the wall, forcing a leaping save from Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to keep it out of the upper-90.
After Feilhaber’s chance, New England took every opportunity to test Hall, trying several times from distance with no luck.
The visitors came close again in the 31st minute when Bengtson went around a charging Hall and sent a ball across that was initially cleared by Jermaine Taylor but resulted in two chances from Dimitry Imbongo.
Houston had its best chance of the half four minutes later when Ricardo Clark was just wide of punishing Shuttleworth, who made five saves on the night, for a poor clearance.
After a similarly slow start to the second half, Feilhaber once again threatened to liven things up with a swerving free kick, but again Hall was up to the task at the hour mark.
Houston came close to taking the lead in the 73rd minute but Shuttleworth kept the scoreline square, making a spectacular diving save on Will Bruin’s last touch of the match.
After Clark scored, rookie Warren Creavalle, who entered just minutes before, pushed the ball down field and hit a curling cross that found a streaking García who drove home his third MLS goal.
The Dynamo will now move on to host the Montreal Impact next Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium. New England’s woes continue as they stay on 29 points and will host the Philadelphia Union, also on Saturday.
Houston Dynamo (13-8-10) vs. New England Revolution (7-16-8)
September 29, 2012 BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Attendance: 22,039 (sellout)
HOU: Ricardo Clark 1 (Brad Davis 12, Brian Ching 4) 77
HOU: Boniek Garcia 3 (Warren Creavalle 1) 90+3
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis (Warren Creavalle 89); Calen Carr (Brian Ching 65), Will Bruin (Cam Weaver 74)
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Andre Hainault, Luiz Camargo, Macoumba Kandji
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth; Darrius Barnes (Diego Fagundez 82), Stephen McCarthy, A.J. Soares, Kevin Alston; Kelyn Rowe, Clyde Simms (Juan Toja 46), Benny Feilhaber, Fernando Cardenas; Dimitry Imbongo (Blake Brettschneider 78), Jerry Bengtson
Substitues not used: Matt Reis, Alec Purdie, Blair Gavin, Michael Roach
NE: Fernando Cardenas (caution) 54
HOU: Bobby Boswell (caution) 60
NE: Dimitry Imbongo (caution) 62
HOU: Will Bruin (caution) 62
NE: Juan Toja (caution) 68
Referee: Drew Fischer
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner, Jonathan Johnson
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo