Terry Dunfield put a damper on the Houston Dynamo’s Saturday night, depositing a late header to give visitors Toronto FC a 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The veteran midfielder got his second of the season with just five minutes left, beating a sleeping Houston offside trap to steal the point.
It was perhaps a bit of cruelty to Houston, who had carried the run of play and took a well-earned lead 21 minutes in through striker Will Bruin. The sophomore hit a deft chip from 12 yards, taking advantage of a charging Freddy Hall to sneak the ball under the crossbar for his first goal in seven matches. Bruin’s tally was the direct result of some sublime build-up play from Boniek Garcia and Ricardo Clark, skinning the Toronto backline in the process.
Houston was on the attack after the goal, dominating play in the first half but never finding the right look for their second.
While the first half was full of energy, the second half developed at a much slower pace. After a stalemate first 10 minutes Toronto’s Luis Silva attempted to wake the game up, working through both Andre Hainault and Jermaine Taylor before firing directly at Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Neither side created much after that until the last 10 minutes, giving Dunfield the stage for his road heroics.
Pushing for a late equalizer, the central midfielder made a streaking run through the box to latch onto a pinpoint cross from Darren O’Dea after a quick restart. Free in the box, Dunfield hit a sharp header that Hall could only parry off the bar and into the net.
The final five minutes saw Houston push numbers forward but only Je-Vaughn Watson came close to pulling the full reward, finding a good look from eight yards that Freddy Hall was able to hold onto.
With the draw Houston misses a chance to pull into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference but it does extend their home unbeaten streak to 21 regular season matches including 13 this season and stays in third place with 42 points, two behind the New York Red Bulls. Toronto remain bottom of the East with 21 points from 26 games, all but eliminated from playoff contention.
Houston return to CCL action when they travel to Honduras to face Olimpia Thursday before traveling to Toyota Park next weekend to play the Chicago Fire in a match rich with playoff implications.
Toronto will face Santos Laguna in CCL play Wednesday before traveling to face East leaders Sporting Kansas City on the weekend.
Houston Dynamo (11-6-9) vs. Toronto FC (5-15-6)
August 25, 2012 BBVA Compass Stadium
HOU: Will Bruin 11 (Boniek Garcia 5) 21
TOR: Terry Dunfield 2 (Darren ODea 1, Jeremy Hall 1) 85
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark (Je-Vaughn Watson 77), Brad Davis; Calen Carr, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 84), Macoumba Kandji (Adam Moffat 73)
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Luiz Camargo, Kofi Sarkodie, Cam Weaver
Toronto FC: Freddy Hall; Jeremy Hall, Richard Eckersley, Darren ODea, Logan Emory (Ashtone Morgan 69); Andrew Wiedeman (Eric Avila 59), Terry Dunfield, Aaron Maund, Ryan Johnson; Quincy Amarikwa (89), Luis Silva
Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic, Dicoy Williams
HOU: Calen Carr (caution) 37
TOR: Terry Dunfield (caution) 68
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland, Mark Cahen
4th Official: Leszek Stalmach