For the second straight weekend the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC combined for four goals in the first half.
However, this time neither team found the net in the second half and shared the spoils after a 2-2 result Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium.
TFC’s Gilberto and Dominic Oduro tallied to balance out go-ahead goals by Dynamo forwards Will Bruin and Giles Barnes, punctuating a firework filled first half. With both goalkeepers coming up big late, that score lasted as TFC (7-5-5) remain in third place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points from 17 games and Houston’s (5-11-4) winless streak runs to eight games to leave them in ninth place with 19 points from 20 games.
Scoring started in a calamitous way for TFC when, in the 11th minute, Bradley Orr hit an errant pass intended for goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Bruin pounced on the mistake and beat Bendik to the ball, slotting home the opener for his first goal since May 7.
Houston encountered their own cruel turn of fate in the 18th minute as Bendik stoned Brad Davis with a diving save on one end, and on the next play Gilberto drew the visitor’s level. The Brazilian found himself in space 10 yards from goal and had time to take a heavy touch and fire for his second of the season.
The back and forth continued eight minutes later when Ricardo Clark played Barnes into space, allowing the Brit to take his time and strike a low, 25-yard roller to beat an out-of-place Bendik to the left for a 2-1 lead.
TFC seemingly had their equalizer in the 28th minute when Corey Ashe hauled down Luke Moore in the area for a penalty, but Michael Bradley clanged his spot kick off the post on a stutter-step attempt.
But the Reds wouldn’t be denied, much like last week when they leveled against the Dynamo a minute before the end of the first half and went on to win 4-2. This time around, Moore worked past AJ Cochran, a 4th minute sub for Eric Brunner who left with a left adductor strain, to beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall with a cross that Oduro bundled home right before the break.
The second half picked up where the first left off – at least action-wise.
A diving save by Hall denied a dangerous shot by Moore in the first minute of the fist half. And 10 minutes later, Barnes hit a rocket on an angle but found the side-netting.
As the heat took its toll later in the game, the chances stalled for the most part until Moore again called Hall into action in the 68th minute with a curling shot from distance, forcing another diving save.
Bruin took a shot at a double in the 75th minute with a nice touch into space but Bendik was well positioned to deflect it wide. Davis also had a wide-open look stopped by Bendik two minutes later as the energetic and punchy second half, which came with five yellow cards, ended with the teams parting ways with a point each.
After playing three games in a week, Toronto get a week off before playing host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Houston don’t return to MLS action until Aug. 3 at home against D.C. United.
Houston Dynamo (5-11-4; 19 points) vs. Toronto FC (7-5-4; 26 points)
MLS regular season
July 19, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Houston: Will Bruin 7 (Unassisted) 11
Toronto FC: Gilberto 2 (Justin Morrow 2, Dominic Oduro 2) 18
Houston: Giles Barnes 5 (Ricardo Clark 3) 26
Toronto FC: Dominic Oduro 2 (Luke Moore 1) 45+2
Toronto FC: Joe Bendik; Nick Hagglund, Bradley Orr, Doneil Henry, Justin Morrow, Dominic Oduro, Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonathan Osorio (Daniel Lovitz 70); Luke Moore (Dwayne De Rosario 80), Gilberto (Jermain Defoe 63)
Unused Substitutes: Chris Konopka, Kyle Bekker, Ashtone Morgan, Andrew Wiedeman
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Eric Brunner (AJ Cochran 4), Corey Ashe; Andrew Driver, Boniek García,Warren Creavalle, Ricardo Clark (Andrew Driver 69), Brad Davis ©; Giles Barnes, Will Bruin
Unused substitutes: Tyler Deric, Brian Ownby, Servando Carrasco, Omar Cummings, Alexander Lopez
TFC: Doneil Henry (Caution) 58
HOU: Corey Ashe (Caution) 79
TFC: Michael Bradley (Caution) 79
TFC: Dominic Oduro (Caution) 80
TFC: Jermain Defoe (Caution) 86
Referee: Juan Guzman
Assistant Referees: Kevin Klinger, Fabio Tovar
Fourth Official: Jair Marrufo