Brad Davis has been sorely missed by the Houston Dynamo while on World Cup duty. Friday night, he came through to rescue a point for the club, converting an 82nd minute penalty kick to pull out a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Davis, who returned to Houston early Thursday morning, got his chance when Chris Duvall mistimed an attempted clearance in the box and was whistled for a handball. The newly minted World Cup veteran claimed the shot and finished to his left to bring the game level and end a five-game losing streak for his club.
New York (4-5-8) moves to 20 points and stays in fifth place in the Eastern Conference while Houston (5-10-3) moves to 18 of their own.
Davis' rescue job was needed as Bradley Wright-Phillips cemented his role as Dynamo torturer. After scoring a hat trick April 17th, the Englishman scored both of New York’s goals using his pace and aerial ability to punish the home team.
Wright-Phillips first goal came in the 13th minute, when he brought the visitors level using that speed to latch on to a perfect 60-yard ball from Eric Alexander and hitting it low to beat Tally Hall.
His second came in the 72nd minute when Ambroise Oyongo put a strong cross in the box. Standing amongst three Dynamo defenders, Wright-Phillips jumped and delivered a would-be winner until Davis spoiled it. The pair of goals runs his total to 14 on the season, extending his lead in the MLS Golden Boot race.
The result is a relief for Houston and came on a night when they got the trio of Davis, Ricardo Clark and Boniek García back in the starting lineup for the first time since April 5th. Clark came up big early, hitting a diagonal ball to set up the club’s first goal in six games.
Clark’s ball found Kofi Sarkodie at the end line, who put a pinpoint cross in the box for Giles Barnes just 39 seconds into the match. He made no mistake, tucking his header in the net and ending a 479 minute scoreless streak for the Dynamo.
Alexander attempted to put New York ahead in the 24th minute of an even first half, forcing Hall into action with a shot from distance, but the goalkeeper came up with a diving save. His RBNY counterpart Luis Robles returned the favor later, going low to stop Garcia to preserve the 1-1 halftime score.
It was all New York out of the locker room and Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill came a post away from producing magic in the 51st minute. The World Cup winner served a beautiful back heel to set up a ferocious volley from the Aussie but the post was unkind.
The game settled with the teams battling for control.
After Wright-Phillips' second goal, Omar Cummings threatened to make an immediate impact. Coming on for Barnes, the Jamaican hit a first-timer to the far post but the attempt was wide and Houston was left to continue their search for the equalizer.
It finally came when Davis scored his penalty kick to share the spoils.
Houston Dynamo (5-10-3; 18 points) vs. New York Red Bulls (4-5-8; 20 points)
MLS regular season
July 4, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Houston: Giles Barnes 4 (Kofi Sarkodie 2, Ricardo Clark 2) 1
New York: Bradley Wright-Phillips 13 (Eric Alexander 5) 13
New York: Bradley Wright-Phillips 14 (Ambroise Oyongo 2) 72
Houston: Brad Davis 2 (penalty) 82
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Eric Brunner, AJ Cochran, Warren Creavalle (Brian Ownby 79); Andrew Driver (Alexander Lopez 79), Ricardo Clark, Boniek García, Brad Davis ©; Giles Barnes (Omar Cummings 74), Will Bruin
Unused substitutes: Tyler Deric, David Horst, Servando Carrasco, Anthony Arena
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Chris Duvall, Jamison Olave (Armando 90+2), Matt Miazga, Ambroise Oyongo; Lloyd Sam, Ibrahim Sekagya, Tim Cahill, Eric Alexander; Bradley Wright-Phillips (Jonathan Steele 80), Thierry Henry
Unused Substitutes: Ruben Bover-Izquierdo, Connor Lade, Andre Akpan, Ryan Meara, Kosuke Kimura
HOU: AJ Cochran (Caution) 50
NY: Jonathan Steele (Caution) 90+6
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: Armando Villarreal