The Houston Dynamo saw their run in the MLS is Back Tournament come to an end after a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy tonight at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Dynamo led for much of the game before a stoppage-time penalty allowed the Galaxy to equalize. Needing a win to advance in the tournament, Houston had three outstanding chances to retake the lead in stoppage time. Forward Ronaldo Peña’s headed shot off of a cross from forward Nico Lemoine in the 93rd minute carried just over the crossbar, then a shot from midfielder Tomás Martínez from the top of the penalty area slide just wide of the far post in the 94th. In the 95th, midfielder Tommy McNamara curled a shot from the corner of the penalty area just wide of the goal. One final effort from the Dynamo in the dying moments was turned away by the Galaxy defense before referee Victor Rivas blew his whistle for full time.
Houston struck first in the 17th minute after midfielder Matías Vera drew a foul 25 yards from goal. Forward Darwin Quintero calmly curled a right-footed shot into the upper right corner of the net. Quintero’s shot had Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham fooled, leaving the keeper flat-footed as it sailed over the wall and into the back of the net.
LA equalized in the first minute stoppage time off a penalty kick from forward Cristian Pavón. The forward converted the spot-kick after Rivas whistled for a foul in the penalty area. Pavón sent goalkeeper Marko Marić the wrong way and slotted his penalty into the lower right corner of the goal.
Marić finished the night with five saves, several of which were acrobatic efforts to keep his team ahead as the Galaxy searched for an equalizer for much of regulation. The Croatian keeper was tested for the first time in the 11th minute when Pavón fired a right-footed shot from 20 yards out. Marić was well-positioned to get low and parry away the shot before quickly jumping on the rebound before any Galaxy players could react to it.
Marić came up with a big save off of a set piece in the 26th minute, positioning himself smartly ahead of Pavón’s free-kick and then diving to his left to push the ball wide of the goal. Marić made another strong reaction save in the 35th minute, quickly getting low to deny a headed shot from Galaxy midfielder Julian Araujo from close range.
Houston finished the MLS is Back Tournament with a 0-1-2 record in the tournament and two points, which placed them third in Group F. Group stage matches will count toward teams’ regular-season records, giving the Dynamo a mark of 0-2-3 on the season.