In a battle to break the third-place tie in the Eastern conference, the Columbus Crew took advantage of goals from Andres Mendoza and Bernardo Anor and a second-half ejection of Lovel Palmer to take a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on Saturday.
Sweltering temperatures at kickoff forced both sides to start at a slow pace early in the match. With sun still on full display and the heat index in the triple digits, both teams got off to a metered start. The lack of energy and choppy play led to bad plays from both teams, but it was Columbus which capitalized first in the 41st minute when Mendoza finished an Anor through ball in the penalty area by slotting it to the left of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to give the Crew a 1-0 lead late in the first half.
A series of physical tackles accompanied the choppy play on Saturday evening. The Dynamo took two yellow cards in the first half – in the 43rd minute to Hunter Freeman and in the 46th minute to Palmer.
Coming out of the locker room down a goal, Houston found itself further behind the eight ball when Palmer was shown his second yellow of the evening for taking down Anor as the midfielder attempted to dribble across the midfield line in the 52nd minute.
Houston seemed energized despite its shorthanded state and was on the front foot for 15 minutes after Palmer’s ejection. The diminished Dynamo side consistently pushed the ball into the final third, creating several chances.
The best came when Brad Davis released rookie Will Bruin down the left sideline and past a prone Chad Marshall. Bruin fired a bullet at Hesmer, who parried the shot. Corey Ashe collected the rebound and found Davis at the top of the box. He dribbled toward the end line, but Hesmer was once again up to task of saving the Davis shot.
With the Dynamo unable to capitalize in that stretch, Anor put the game away for the Crew in the 77th minute. The midfielder made an attacking run into the Dynamo penalty box, firing a shot that Hall saved. Hall was unable to retain the deflection, and Anor followed his initial shot with an angled goal that put the Crew up 2-0, securing the Crew's first win at Robertson Stadium.
With the win, the Crew take sole possession of third place in the East with 21 points, while Houston slips to fourth and stays on 18 points. The Crew host defending MLS Cup champion Colorado next Sunday, while Houston travels to D.C. on Saturday night.
Columbus Crew (5-4-6) vs. Houston Dynamo (4-6-6)
June 18, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
CLB -- Andres Mendoza 5 (Bernardo Anor 1) 41
CLB -- Bernardo Anor 1 (Justin Meram 2) 77
Columbus Crew -- William
Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Chad Marshall, Josh Gardner, Eddie
Gaven, Rich Balchan, Emmanuel Ekpo (Kevin Burns 84), Bernardo Anor, Andres
Mendoza (Justin Meram 64), Tommy Heinemann (Tejan Rusmir 93+).
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Gehrig, Aaron Horton, Andy Iro, Andy Gruenebaum.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally
Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark
(Danny Cruz 62), Geoff Cameron, Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Cam Weaver (Brian
Ching 62), Will Bruin (Jason Garey 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Alex Dixon, Kofi Sarkodie, Tyler Deric.
HOU -- Hunter Freeman (caution; Reckless Tackle) 43
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (caution; Reckless Tackle) 46+
CLB -- Bernardo Anor (caution; Reckless Tackle) 49
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (ejection; Second Caution) 52
CLB -- Tommy Heinemann (caution; Reckless Foul) 83
Referee: Jasen Anno
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Juan Guzman
Weather: Sunny-and-92 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial