The Houston Dynamo, playing with 10 men, pulled out a breathtaking 2-2 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at Robertson Stadium, using a last-minute goal from substitute Brian Mullan to thrill a crowd of 24,750 and spoil the Major League Soccer debut of French superstar Thierry Henry.
The crowd of 24,750 was the 10th highest in Dynamo history at Robertson Stadium and a season high, more than New York’s crowd of 20,312 for Thierry Henry’s debut on July 22.
The back-and-forth game got exciting early, with New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul diving to his right to stop a shot from Lovel Palmer in the ninth minute. The Red Bulls took the lead a minute later when Thierry Henry created space on the left and floated a left-footed cross into the six-yard box, where the Dynamo could not clear and Juan Pablo Angel crashed it into the net for his 10th goal of the season.
The Dynamo tied the game in the 24th minute when Joseph Ngwenya was taken down in the penalty area, giving Houston a penalty kick. Brad Davis stepped up to fire in his team-high fourth goal of the season, three of which have come on penalty kicks. He was given another opportunity in the 39th minute when Brian Ching was taken down in the box, but Davis fired his second penalty kick attempt over the crossbar.
The half included several near-misses for New York and Thierry Henry, including a breakaway that he shot off the outside of the post and a key stop by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall from close range in the 30th minute. The game turned, however, in the 44th minute, when Dynamo midfielder Lovel Palmer was given a straight red card for a seemingly innocuous tackle in the middle of the field. Houston played the remainder of the match with 10 men.
Up a man in the second half, New York took advantage in the 58th minute when Juan Pablo Angel and Dane Richards crossed runs, leaving Angel open to receive a pass from Thierry Henry on the right side of the box and rip a shot over the shoulder of Tally Hall.
Houston maintained the one-goal deficit and got a burst of life from veteran Brian Mullan, inserted as a second forward in the 77th minute to provide support for Brian Ching, who did yeoman’s work holding the ball up all night. The Dynamo came to life, creating chances and cashing in on one in the 90th minute. Ching held the ball up and fed Andrew Hainault wide on the right. Hainault served a curling cross to the back post, where Mullan arrived to head the ball into the top left corner of the net for a dramatic game-tying goal.
It was the second time in the last three MLS home games that Mullan played a crucial part in the equalizing goal; on June 26, he come on as a substitute and set up Joseph Ngwenya for the game-tying goal in the 80th minute.
The tie did condemn Houston to an eighth consecutive league game without a win (0-4-4) and its seventh consecutive winless match against New York (0-3-4). The Dynamo return to action Thursday in the SuperLiga semifinals, hosting Monarcas Morelia at Robertson Stadium. They will then play a third game in nine days, facing Seattle on the road on Sunday, August 8.
The Dynamo played without midfielders Geoff Cameron (PCL surgery) and Francisco Navas Cobo (U.S. U-20 national team), defender Bobby Boswell (red card suspension), and goalkeeper Pat Onstad (abdominal strain).
Midfielder Anthony Obodai made his MLS debut for the Dynamo, starting and playing 59 minutes in midfield. Obodai becomes the Dynamo’s 24th different player of the season. Defender Adrian Serioux started at center back before leaving due to injury, Serioux’s first start in MLS play since May 13.
In the match, Houston’s Richard Mulrooney made his 275th career MLS regular season appearance, and Brian Mullan played in his 245th career MLS game. Brad Davis made his 175th career MLS start, and Brian Ching appeared in his 160th regular season game while making his 135th start.