HOUSTON – The New York Red Bulls turned a big second half into a huge victory, scoring three times after the break to notch a 4-1 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium and jump to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
After going into the locker room tied at 1-1, New York got goals from Thierry Henry, Jonny Steele and Lloyd Sam, besting a Dynamo team that remains on the outside of the playoff picture with 37 points. New York improves to 45 points, even with Sporting Kansas City for top spot in the East, and move closer to securing a high seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Eric Alexander got the day started with a dazzling opening goal, playing a sharp give-and-go with Steele to draw first blood in the 14th minute. Alexander started the play down the middle, playing a wall-pass off Steele and curling a shot from 20-yards out which beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who was off his line.
Houston responded in-kind four minutes later with a pair of firsts from Jason Johnson and Alexander López to draw level at 1-1. Lopez, making his first MLS start since signing August 30, lofted a perfect pass into the path of the streaking Johnson. The rookie from Virginia Commonwealth University took a touch before pushing his shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles for his first MLS goal and Houston’s momentary equalizer.
But early in the second half, Henry delivered a blow to Houston's comeback hopes, splitting the Dynamo's defense and giving New York a lead again. The Frenchman collected a ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips and, after a missed tackle by Houston defensive midfielder Adam Moffat, walked into the box and finished past Hall to give New York a 2-1 lead.
The Red Bulls stuck the dagger in in the 59th minute when Steele beat the offside trap and broke in on goal to make it 3-1. Wright-Phillips put a ball over the top and Steele beat the Dynamo back line, rounded Hall and calmly finished for the Red Bulls’ third.
With the Dynamo pushing forward, Sam found a fourth goal for the visitors as the Red Bulls dissected Houston's back line with sharp passing. The four New York goals marks the most goals the Dynamo have conceded at BBVA Compass Stadium.
To punctuate Houston’s rough day, head coach Dominic Kinnear was ejected by referee Chris Penso after disputing a hard collision between RBNY defender Markus Holgersson and Dynamo second half substitute Brian Ownby. He will miss Houston’s next game, a trip to the Philadelphia Union, who are fourth in the East.
Houston, which switched to a 4-3-3 for the match, was depleted, playing without internationals Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia and Jermaine Taylor and injury causalities Andrew Driver, Eric Brunner and Corey Ashe. The shift pushed Will Bruin to midfield, but the changes did not prove fruitful.
New York played without a star of its own, missing Tim Cahill due to injury, but was able to overcome the loss and pull out the stunning victory.
While Houston travels to Philadelphia next week, New York will take a week off before hosting FC Dallas on September 22.
Houston Dynamo (10-10-7; 37 points) vs. New York Red Bulls (13-9-6; 45 points)
MLS regular season
September 8, 2013 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
New York: Eric Alexander 3 (Jonathan Steele 6) 14
Houston: Jason Johnson 1 (Alexander López 1) 18
New York: Thierry Henry 8 (Bradley Wright-Phillips 1) 47
New York: Jonathan Steele 4 (Bradley Wright-Phillips 2, Thierry Henry 8) 58
New York: Lloyd Sam 4 (Péguy Luyindula 3) 88
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Warren Creavalle, Mike Chabala (Brian Ching 80); Adam Moffat (Ricardo Clark 53), Alexander López (Brian Ownby 60), Will Bruin; Giles Barnes, Cam Weaver, Jason Johnson
Unused substitutes: Erich Marscheider, Alex Dixon, Anthony Arena, Calen Carr
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; David Carney, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson (Matt Miazga 76), Kosuke Kimura; Jonathan Steele, Dax McCarty, Lloyd Sam, Eric Alexander (Péguy Luyindula 70); Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Michael Bustamante 90+3)
Unused substitutes: Ryan Meara, Marius Obekop, Ruben Bover Izquierdo, Fabian Espindola
NY: David Carney (caution) 45
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: Jeff Muschik, Jonathan Johnson
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald