HOUSTON – Lee Nguyen gave his campaign for MVP consideration a boost Thursday and in the process put his team closer to clinching home field advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The New England Revolution midfielder scored in the 65th and 87th minutes to clinch a come-from-behind 2-1 win for the Revs over the Houston Dynamo, spoiling the home farewell for Houston coach Dominic Kinnear, who will be leaving at the end of the season for his hometown San Jose Earthquakes after nine years with the Dynamo. The win improves New England's point total to 52 – three above third place Sporting Kansas City – in the Eastern Conference standings.
Nguyen's first goal came in the 65th minute with a sterling strike. Minutes after entering the match World Cup standout Jermaine Jones fed a perfect ball through a gaping hole in Houston’s defense to Kevin Alston, who squared the ball to Nguyen to park in the upper 90 and pull the game level at 1-1.
He then pulled out the three points just before the death, finishing off a pinball sequence in which the Revs had four touches in the Dynamo penalty area. Charlie Davies put the first shot on goal after a saved free kick, but Kofi Sarkodie was in the right spot to clear it off the line. The deflection found its way to Nguyen who finished easily for his 17th goal and the win.
The first 25 minutes were all New England as Houston struggled to put a string of passes together. Despite a slow start, though, Houston struck first in the 37th minute when Giles Barnes took the club scoring lead with his 11th goal of the season.
Luis Garrido played Omar Cummings, who got on the right side of A.J. Soares, into space. The Jamaican fired a shot at Revs 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who parried it right into Barnes’ path for the simple finish and a 1-0 lead.
The second half got off to a somber start for the Revs as right back Andrew Farrell left the game on a stretcher after his foot was stomped on by Jermaine Taylor. The Dynamo defender received a yellow card and Farrell went off with a right leg injury after a few minutes of treatment, making way for Alston.
Both teams had chances after the injury, but Houston nearly extended their lead from an unlikely source. Andrew Driver, who has not scored since May 2013, took two touches in the box to get it on his left foot in the 59th minute but his shot was deflected out by Soares.
Two minutes later, substitute Charlie Davies came close to evening the score but his chance was just off the mark. David Horst failed to clear a ball in the box and instead it went right to Davies, but his chip was taken off course by an onrushing Deric.
Nguyen eventually did the job and the Revolutionj got the full reward from their trip to Texas.
New England host Toronto FC on Oct. 25 and will then look ahead to the playoffs, while the already-eliminated Dynamo finish their season a day earlier at the Chicago Fire.
Houston Dynamo (11-16-6; 39 points) vs. New England Revolution (16-13-4; 52 points)
MLS regular season
October 16, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Attendance: 22,332 (sellout)
Houston Dynamo: Giles Barnes 11 (unassisted) 37
New England Revolution: Lee Nguyen 16 (Kevin Alston 3, Jermaine Jones 4) 65
New England Revolution: Lee Nguyen 17 (Darrius Barnes 2) 87
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, AJ Cochran, Jermaine Taylor; Andrew Driver (Boniek Garcia 65), Luis Garrido (Servando Carrasco 77), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis; Giles Barnes, Omar Cummings (Will Bruin 80)
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Lisch, Eric Brunner, Corey Ashe, Tony Cascio
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth; Andrew Farrell (Kevin Alston 50), Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes; Daigo Kobayashi (Jermaine Jones 65), Scott Caldwell; Steve Neumann, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe; Patrick Mullins (Charlie Davies 58)
Substitutes not used: Brad Knighton, Andy Dorman, Tony Taylor, Diego Fagundez
HOU: Jermaine Taylor (caution) 47
HOU: Luis Garrido (caution) 52
HOU: Giles Barnes (caution) 73
Referee: Ted Unkel
Referee’s assistants: Jeff Muschik and Paul Scott
Fourth official: Marcos de Oliveira