Looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the Columbus Crew turned a second half burst into a well-earned point in a 2-2 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium with the Houston Dynamo.
After conceding twice in the first half, Wil Trapp and Ethan Finlay each struck pay dirt ten minutes into the second stanza. The second half effort was enough to keep the ledger level and get the Crew out of Houston with a point.
The result moves the Crew (9-9-10, 37 points) into a tie with Philadelphia Union for the fifth and final playoff spot in the East. Houston (9-13-5, 32 points) remains five points back in eighth place.
After a fast paced first 10 minutes saw both clubs generate chances, Houston got a favorable deflection to take the lead. On a corner kick, rookie AJ Cochran beat Aaron Schoenfeld to the ball. His shot deflected off the forward’s head and into the side netting giving Houston a 12th minute lead.
Giles Barnes doubled the lead in the 38th minute on some nice interplay. Kofi Sarkodie, who returned after being suspended for yellow card accumulation, played Omar Cummings through and his sharp through ball found his partner in the box for the second week. Faced up with Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark, the Englishman chipped it over the onrushing ‘keeper to the far post, scoring his eighth of the season and third in two games to make it 2-0.
The Crew wasted little time in the second half pulling one back just three minutes in on a special moment from Trapp. The up-and-coming midfielder settled a Waylon Francis throw 25 yards from goal and with no defender within 10 yards snuck it past goalkeeper Tyler Deric to make it 2-1.
Six minutes later they equalized, this time it was Finlay taking advantage of space. Federico Higuain hit a sharp cross to the back post. With no defender marking, the midfielder settled and powered a header home from point blank range to tie the score to draw the match level.
Ricardo Salazar twice had a change of heart that took a chance away from the Crew. On a first half corner kick, Cochran was called for a foul and the referee pointed to the spot. After conferring with assistant referee Kermit Quisenberry he reversed the decision denying a golden chance for Higuain to equalize.
Lightning struck again in the 82nd minute when Salazar called a PK for a handball on Cochran. Again he conferred with his AR, Mark Cahen this time, and reversed the decision. On replay, the ball looked to go off the rookie’s head and not his hand.
In the end the teams split the halves. Houston claimed the first, the Crew the second and the spoils that come along with it.
Next Saturday Houston will travel to the northeast to face another playoff contender in the Philadelphia Union while Columbus will host the New England Revolution.
Houston Dynamo (9-13-5; 32 points) vs. Columbus Crew (9-9-10; 37 points)
MLS regular season
September 13, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Houston: Aaron Schoenfeld (own goal) 12
Houston: Giles Barnes 8 (Omar Cummings 3) 30
Columbus: Wil Trapp 1 (Waylon Francis 5) 48
Columbus: Ethan Finlay 7 (Waylon Francis 6) 54
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, AJ Cochran, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek Garcia (Brian Ownby 46), Luis Garrido, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis (Andrew Driver 58), Giles Barnes, Omar Cummings (Alex Lopez 83)
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Lisch, Eric Brunner, Servando Carrasco, Corey Ashe
Columbus Crew: Steve Clark; Eric Gehrig (Hector Jimenez 46), Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor 46); Aaron Schoenfeld (Jairo Arrieta 75)
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Ben Speas, Kevan George
CLB: Aaron Schoenfeld (caution) 34
HOU: Boniek Garcia (caution) 45+2
HOU: Giles Barnes (caution) 64
CLB: Bernardo Anor (caution) 69
HOU: Kofi Sarkodie (caution) 86
CLB: Waylon Francis (caution) 90
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s assistants: Kermit Quisenberry, Mark Cahen
Fourth official: Armando Villarreal