The Houston Dynamo looked to inch a bit closer to the final playoff spot against a tired and banged up New York Red Bull side. The Dynamo reported that leading goal scorer Will Bruin was back at practice, but the dancing bear was left off the game sheet in this one. Veteran defender Jermaine Taylor also stayed on the bench as A.J. Cochran and David Horst continue to show improvement together and have notched back to back shutouts.
The Red Bulls looked to be the more dangerous side early into the match as they were able to possess the ball for extended periods of time around the Dynamo 18 yard box and they picked up a dangerous free kick which was safely handled by Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric. The Dynamo defense was able to keep the Red Bulls from getting in behind and they forced difficult shots from outside.
It was a nervous moment for Dynamo center back David Horst after he won a ball off Thierry Henry who then shoved Horst to the ground and accidentally kicked Horst in the head. After the play, Horst looked a little slow to get up, but he was able to keep going after shaking off the challenge.
New York had their closest opportunity to score in the 23rd minute as Lloyd Sam was able to find space against A.J. Cochran, but his shot was knocked away by Tyler Deric. The blocked shot went right to MLS scoring leader Bradley Wright-Phillips in front of an empty net, but his shot somehow hit the top of the post. Phillips would have another chance on goal less than 10 minutes later but, despite a tremendous effort by the striker who turned in traffic to create space, the shot was deflected out for a corner.
In the 36th minute, Luis Garrido grabbed Henry to prevent a chance at goal which resulted in a free kick for New York just outside of the 18 yard box. Henry's free kick was a beauty as it looked to be headed for the corner of the goal, but it didn't dip enough and struck the woodwork. Just before the half, Bradley Wright-Phillips was at it again as he had Tyler Deric in a 1v1, but Deric came up big and helped keep the Red Bulls off the score line.
The Dynamo would head into half time 0-0 after withstanding 10 shots (2 on target) by the Red Bulls compared to their 3 shots (2 on target). While the Red Bulls were able to generate chance after threatening chance, the Dynamo were able to hang in there with strong defensive efforts and a little help from the crossbar.
The Red Bulls started the second half hot as Lloyd Sam played a ball to the feet of Bradley Wright-Phillips, but it somehow deflected out to a wide open Thierry Henry who calmly buried the ball in the net putting the home side up 1-0. Moments later, Brad Davis sent in a perfectly curled ball to Giles Barnes in front of the goal, but the one time volley went right to NY goalkeeper Luis Robles.
In the 60th minute, the MLS scoring leader had another 1v1 against Tyler Deric and Deric was able to come up with another big stop preventing the Red Bulls from doubling their lead. In the 67th minute, Andrew Driver came on for Omar Cummings as the team looked to battle for control of the midfield by switching to a 4-5-1 formation. The change in formation immediately made the Dynamo look more aggressive and dominant in the midfield and attacking third of the pitch.
Giles Barnes tried to pull the Dynamo equal in the 83rd minute after the Dynamo held possession atop the Red Bull 18 yard box. Barnes felt comfortable pulling the trigger on his shot, but it went over the top of the crossbar.
Tim Cahill made a short cameo appearance. Just 3 minutes after being subbed on he was shown a straight red card for a two footed lunging challenge on Boniek Garcia. The Dynamo immediately went to work trying to get an equalizer with Brad Davis and DaMarcus Beasley leading the way. Beasley's shot however would take a deflection and go right to Robles.
The Dynamo's efforts to equalize weren't there as the Red Bulls would go on to win this one 1-0 at home. The Dynamo dug themselves a hole early by allowing the New York to control the midfield. Even though the defense held up well for most of the game, the Red Bulls were able to find room to score once which proved to be enough. Bringing Andrew Driver on for Omar Cummings proved to be a smart tactical move which allowed the Dynamo to look much more threatening offensively. However, with all the pressure they were able to mount, the finishing touch just wasn't there. The Dynamo never had a very good look on goal despite 15 shots.
The loss doesn't eliminate the Dynamo from the playoff picture, but it makes an uphill climb even steeper. The Dynamo will next face Toronto FC in Toronto for a midweek matchup which will surely be a do-or-die game. They'll have to do it without midfielders Oscar Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido.
47' Thierry Henry
Dynamo: Deric; Beasley, Cochran, Horst (Alex 80'), Sarkodie; Davis, Clark (Taylor 72'), Garrido, Boniek; Barnes, Cummings (Driver 67')
NYRB: Robles; Eckersley, Armando, Sekagya (Perrinelle 88'), Miller; Sam, McCarty, Alexander (Cahill 85'), Luyindula, Henry (Christianson 90'); Wright-Phillips