HOUSTON – Thanks to goals from Taylor Kemp, Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson, D.C. United are are one step closer to a worst-to-first season in the Eastern Conference after claiming a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
The win gives D.C., now 1-9-1 all-time in Houston, 56 points and puts them six points clear of the second-place New England Revolution. The defeat eliminated the Dynamo from playoff contention.
The match was was halted for a weather delay due to lightning in the area of BBVA Compass Stadium at the 21:42-minute mark. The field and stands were cleared for one hour and 12 minutes before the game resumed.
Following that wait, D.C. took the lead in the 41st minute when Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric rushed off his line to stop a Chris Pontius shot, only to see the rebound land at Kemp’s feet. The left back hit it with his laces just inside the 18-yard box to give the visitors the opener.
Just before halftime, assistant referee Chris Strickland raised his flag for a handball on Steve Birnbaum inside the box on a Giles Barnes cross. After effusive protests from D.C. players and a conference with referee Ismail Elfath, the call was waved off and a drop ball was awarded to D.C.
With their playoff hopes hinging on a result, the Dynamo pushed forward in the second after being outshot nine to three during the first 45 minutes.
Barnes, following a dummy by Brad Davis, nearly evened the score in the 57th minute, but Bill Hamid made a brilliant flying save to keep the lead. Hamid will rejoin the US national team for their Tuesday friendly vs. Honduras.
In the 64th minute, Espindola followed up with a dagger that Houston could not recover from. Sean Franklin cleared a Dynamo free kick to the Argentine, who had nothing but green in front him and capped his 60-yard run with a classy chip over an on rushing Deric to make it 2-0.
Houston was given a lifeline in the 81st minute when Sean Franklin was whistled for a penalty kick after he appeared to drag Ricardo Clark down in the box. Barnes calmly beat Hamid to the right to bring the Dynamo to within one and give the Englishman double-digit goals for the campaign.
Johnson, who came for an injured Luis Silva in the first half, iced the game after slotting home from close range in the 87th minute to seal the 3-1 victory.
D.C. United are in action next on Saturday when they host the Chicago Fire, while the Dynamo welcome the New England Revolution to BBVA Compass Stadium on Thursday on ESPN2.
Houston Dynamo (11-15-6; 39 points) vs. D.C. United (16-9-7; 55 points)
MLS regular season
October 12, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
D.C. United: Taylor Kemp 1 (unassisted) 41
D.C. United: Fabian Espindola 10 (Sean Franklin 3) 64
Houston Dynamo: Giles Barnes 10 (penalty kick) 83
D.C. United: Eddie Johnson 6 (David Estrada 2, Sean Franklin 4) 87
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Eric Brunner (Will Bruin 78), DaMarcus Beasley (Corey Ashe 11); Andrew Driver, Servando Carrasco (Alexander Lopez 66), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis; Giles Barnes, Omar Cummings
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Lisch, Anthony Arena, Brian Ownby, Jason Johnson
D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon (David Estrada 78), Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius (Chris Korb 61); Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva (Eddie Johnson 30)
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Willis, Kofi Opare, Jared Jeffrey, Lewis Neal
D.C.: Bill Hamid (caution) 70
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Referee’s assistants: Adam Garner, Chris Strickland
Fourth official: Kevin Terry, Jr.