TORONTO – The 10-man Houston Dynamo kept their playoff hopes alive after picking up a valuable three points in a 1-0 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field on Wednesday.
A well-placed goal scored by Giles Barnes in the 35th minute was the difference between the two, as Toronto FC heaped even more pressure on its final three matches of the season in its quest for a first playoff appearance in club history.
The result keeps Houston’s (11-14-6, 39 points) faint playoff chances alive, moving the Dynamo into seventh in the East, four points behind fifth-place Columbus for the final postseason spot. Toronto (11-13-7, 40 points) remain in sixth-place, one point ahead of Houston and three back of the Crew.
The match started off with some high-tempo soccer on display from both sides, Toronto FC putting pressure high up on the field with Houston bursting forward on the counterattack on regular intervals. The Dynamo forced Reds ‘keeper Joe Bendik into making a number of big saves in the first half, while Toronto FC forwards Jermain Defoe and Jackson continued taking shots on Houston 'keeper Tyler Deric’s goal.
Defoe came close to scoring in the first half for Toronto FC on the half-hour mark, picking up a pass from Michael Bradley, cutting in and cracking a shot on goal that went just wide. But on the other end, Barnes continued physically imposing himself on Toronto’s back line, and that paid off in the 35th minute after Kofi Sarkodie picked the forward with a long ball on the right side.
Barnes outmuscled central defender Nick Hagglund and sent a low rocket shot through Bendik’s legs to give Houston a 1-0 lead, a score the Dynamo held at the halftime whistle.
The second half started with the same high energy and 10 minutes in, Luke Moore was tugged down in the box by AJ Cochran. Referee Armando Villarreal whistled for a penalty kick and incorrectly showed a red card to defender David Horst, before eventually correcting himself, reinstating Horst and showing Cochran the door. Deric came up huge after the dust settled, diving to his right to stop Defoe’s penalty.
For the next 20 minutes or so, it was truly all Toronto FC. The home side continued to create chance after chance but Deric stood like a titan between the posts, denying Toronto time and time again. TFC boss Greg Vanney, in an attempt to find an equalizer, put Dwayne De Rosario into the match for Jackson with 10 minutes to go.
The fourth official showed seven minutes of added time after the extended delay for the penalty, with Houston still holding onto a 1-0 lead despite constant pressure from Toronto’s offense. Dan Lovitz entered the match for Justin Morrow as Vanney put all his attacking options on the field looking for a goal that just would not come.
Both teams will return to action this weekend, with Toronto FC traveling to take on New York at Red Bull Arena on Saturday before Houston hosts D.C. at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday.
Toronto FC (11-13-7; 40 points) vs. Houston Dynamo (11-14-6; 39 points)
MLS regular season
October 8, 2014 – BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Houston: Giles Barnes 9 (Kofi Sarkodie 4) 35
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, AJ Cochran, DaMarcus Beasley; Andrew Driver, Servando Carrasco, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis (Brian Ownby 83); Giles Barnes (Jason Johnson 90+7), Omar Cummings (Eric Brunner 58)
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Lisch, Alexander Lopez, Anthony Arena, Will Bruin
Toronto FC: Joe Bendik; Mark Bloom, Steve Caldwell, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow (Daniel Lovitz 90+1); Jackson (Dwayne De Rosario 80), Kyle Bekker (Dominic Oduro 65), Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio; Jermain Defoe, Luke Moore
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Konopka, Warren Creavalle, Bradley Orr, Collen Warner
HOU: AJ Cochran (ejection) 55
TOR: Daniel Lovitz (caution) 90+5
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Referee’s assistants: Craig Lowry, Oscar Mitchell-Carvaiho
Fourth official: Silviu Petrescu