PORTLAND, Ore. – The Houston Dynamo climbed a rung up the playoff ladder with a rough and tumble 2-0 road win Friday against the Portland Timbers. In the process, they dealt a major blow to Portland, who had been nipping at Houston’s heels in the postseason race.
The Dynamo jumped over New York, Columbus and Sporting KC into the second place in the East with 46 points from 33 games. Portland, meanwhile, remain on the outside looking in with 40 points from their 32 contests.
With rain falling throughout the Timbers’ home finale in front of 20,323 fans at JELD-WEN Field, there was clearly no love lost between the two teams as they combined for 30 fouls and two yellow cards.
After a back-and-forth first half hour, Houston got on the board first in the 36th minute. A Lovel Palmer tackle on Carlo Costly at the right corner of the penalty area gave the Dynamo a free kick, and as they have all season, the men in orange were able to capitalize. Defender Andre Hainault got a touch on Brad Davis’ service, nodding past Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The Timbers cried foul, as midfielder Sal Zizzo – who had been dispossessed in the lead-up to Palmer's foul – was off receiving treatment when the goal was scored.
The raw play continued in the second half as Houston midfielder Danny Cruz went hard into Timbers defender Mike Chabala, sending him sprawling to the turf. The play drew a yellow and Chabala had to gather himself on the sidelines briefly before coming back in.
Houston put home the capper in the 59th minute in spectacular fashion when Cruz drove a left-footed blast from 30-yards out into the top corner of the goal.
Portland’s desperate attempts to claw back into it went by the board when a Lovel Palmer cross to Eric Brunner deflected off Costly and nearly trickeled in before it was secured by a diving Tally Hall in the 64th minute. Minutes later, a clean Kenny Cooper header was pushed wide. Then, at the death, a David Horst header banged off the goalpost right before the final whistle blew.
Portland (11-14-7) do possess a game in hand over Houston and Colorado. They’ll play at D.C. United on October 19 before concluding the season at Real Salt Lake on October 22.
Houston (11-9-13) wrap up their season on October 23 at home against the LA Galaxy.
HOU -- Andre Hainault 1 (Brad Davis 15) 36
HOU -- Danny Cruz 2 (Luiz Camargo 2) 59
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Je-Vaughn Watson 77), Brad Davis (Colin Clark 74), Calen Carr (Will Bruin 81), Carlo Costly.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Ching, Hunter Freeman, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Mike Chabala (David Horst 66), Sal Zizzo (Jorge Perlaza 46), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 74), Darlington Nagbe.
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, James Marcelin, Rodney Wallace, Jake Gleeson.
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 51
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson (caution; Reckless Foul) 87
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-58-degrees