Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE
In an entertaining game, the Houston Dynamo used a second half goal to walk away with a draw against Honduran club Olimpia. With the draw, Houston advances to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
For those fans who made their way out to BBVA Compass Stadium (announced attendance 19,462), they definitely got their money worth. The most important fact of the night is this - with the 1-1 draw against Olimpia, the Dynamo have advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
The less important facts were the entertaining part. The refereeing was downright horrible, but of course this is nothing new to the CONCACAF region. Houston was booked for five yellow cards, while Olimpia received three - including a second on defender Brayan Beckeles. Referee Juan Carlos Guerra lost control of the match early in the first half and was never able to gain control of the situation. Among the drama throughout the night was several controversial calls (and non calls), a Dominic Kinnear ejection, and a great acting attempt from Olimpia goalkeeper Donis Escobar.
In the end, it was a Nathan Sturgis corner kick that found the head of Andre Hainault to draw the game even in the 65', thus keeping Houston at the top of the group 3 table and through to the next round.
The first half was dominated by Olimpia and it was clear they were prepared to come into Houston and leave with a win. The Dynamo were able to withstand the constant pressure for just a short time until Olimpia went up on a 21' free kick. Forward Douglas Caetano set up the free kick for Olimpia and fired a rocket past Tyler Deric. Deric was able to get a hand on it, but couldn't keep it from the back of the net.
Olimpia continued to pour on the pressure for the rest of the first half, and looked it looked like it would be a long night for the Dynamo. In the 40' things got out of control after Calen Carr was taken down in the box and coach Dominic Kinnear went ballistic towards the referees. Needless to say he was ejected moments later, but not before letting the officials know what he thought of them.
Olimpia led 1-0 at the half and Houston was in tough spot. Their coach had been ejected, they were losing, and it they couldn't put together any significant attacks in the first half. Luckily for the men in orange, the game turned into a tale of two halves.
All three second half substitutes for Houston gave the Dynamo a boost, starting with Je-Vaughn Watson at the start of the second half. Watson came on for Colin Clark, who was never able to get involved in the first half. Watson's energy made an immediate impact and Houston looked like a team determined for a goal.
The goal came in the 65' when Hainault knocked in a corner kick from Sturgis drawing the game level and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Speaking of the crowd, what a great display from both Olimpia fans and Dynamo fans. It was truly a mixed crowd, but ultimately the Dynamo fans (led by the supporter's group) won the battle in the second half. It was entertaining to see both sets of fans going back and forth with team chants.
Shortly after the goal, the game really got crazy. From my seats, it appeared Olimpia goalkeeper Donis Escobar pushed Brian Ching into the netting as the referee's eyes were somewhere else. Calen Carr noticed and had some words and lightly pushed Escobar. I use the word lightly, because the keeper flew backwards, holding his head like Carr had punched him in the face. It was a ridiculous display from the Honduran goalkeeper, one that should be punished further by the "powers that be" in CONCACAF. Both Carr and Escobar drew a yellow card for the altercation. At this point in the game, no one knew what to expect in the last 15 minutes - with such poor refereeing anything could've happened.
Houston brought in Boniek Garcia in the 77' to bring some additional speed to the midfield. Garcia, who was previously with Los Leones, had a solid game creating a number of chances and almost giving Houston a lead later in the match.
In the 79', Olimpia's Brayan Beckeles was given a second yellow card for an ugly foul on Calen Carr. Both of Beckeles' cautions were for fouls on Carr. Macoumba Kandji came in at the 85', and put in a solid day's work in his limited time. With Houston up a man for the rest of the match, they pushed forward carefully, but knew they would advance with a draw.
In the end, the refereeing was terrible, Olimpia's solid performance was overshadowed by poor player decisions, and the Dynamo made it clear BBVA Compass Stadium is a fortress. Regardless of how much Olimpia pressed for a goal, the Dynamo defense (with the help of the midfield most of the night) held off the pressure and got the result they needed for another shot at international success.
The final eight clubs that will advance to the quarterfinals will be set by Thursday night, but with current results Houston will likely finish between 5-8. Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle are the three MLS clubs through to the knockout stage, while Real Salt Lake was eliminated last night.