The New England Revolution earned three hard-fought points at Robertson Stadium against their old rivals the Houston Dynamo.
Shalrie Joseph and Kheli Dube scored for the visitors in a match that saw some very rough tackling and two red cards. Dominic Oduro got the home team on the board.
The match was a predictably chippy and contentious affair from the get-go, but the visitors seemed to get the better of possession. Both teams had several chances in the early going.
The Dynamo threatened first through Cam Weaver, who deftly turned Osei inside-out in the box before driving a low ball that was deflected across the goalmouth. Bobby Shuttleworth bravely threw himself down to smother it with Brad Davis bearing down, preventing a certain goal.
Marko Perovic and Ilija Stolica attempted to re-ignite the Serbian connection in the 10th minute. Perovic sent in a near-post corner that Stolica reached first. He attempted a skillful flick that soared wide. Houston nearly scored on the ensuing break as a streaking Davis tested the young Shuttleworth from the left edge of the box, but the Revs keeper was up to the challenge and made a good save.
The Revolution struck back again in the 13th minute as Kheli Dube fed Shalrie Joseph, who flicked the ball up to Ilija Stolica. Stolica’s run in the box was impeded by the grabbing hands of Ryan Cochrane, but the Serbian managed to get a shot off that screwed wide.
Pat Phelan may have been lucky to stay in the game after a crunching tackle on Geoff Cameron in the 26th minute. He led with his studs up and caught the Dynamo midfielder at the top of the shin, but escaped with a yellow and a firm reprimand from referee Mark Geiger.
The Dynamo had managed one or two long-range efforts (notably from Lovel Palmer) prior to the card, but came the closest they had all match on the ensuing free-kick. Brad Davis lined it up well and had an effort on goal that flashed just over the bar with some wicked swerve.
Bobby Shuttleworth was called upon again to make a good save in the 35th minute. Geoff Cameron fought to the byline just next to the post and ripped a quick shot off that Shuttleworth deflected away, and it was eventually dealt with. At the other end, the Revs almost responded immediately through Perovic, who used a series of drag-backs to bamboozle Serioux, but his shot flew high and wide.
The visitors from Foxboro took the lead in the 43rd minute with a clever bit of work from captain Joseph. A long throw from Darrius Barnes was cleared all the way back to the centerline, where Emmanuel Osei played it forward. Joseph beat the offside trap and took the long ball down well, taking a touch and then drilling a shot through Onstad’s legs.
Houston very nearly equalized in the second minute of first-half stoppage time as the Revs failed to clear a ball properly and it ran to Oduro behind the defense. His drilled shot from about six yards out was saved point-blank by Shuttleworth.
Houston opened the second half well, creating a very good chance through the work of Dominic Oduro. The African striker fought off two Revs defenders to deliver a good cross onto the head of Lovel Palmer, but the Jamaican was unable to direct it on frame.
Their work paid off in the 60th minute, though, as Houston pulled level again. Richard Mulrooney got free down the right and delivered a excellent far-post cross. Emmanuel Osei was caught ball-watching as Oduro ghosted in and drilled a low first-time volley into the net.
Oduro nearly had a second just five minutes later. Lovel Palmer ran hard into the Revs defense before threading a ball forward to the lightning-fast striker. Oduro’s effort was vicious but tipped over by Shuttleworth.
After enduring a run of dominance from the home side, the Revolution regained their lead through the diligent play of Ilija Stolica. The Serbian striker harried Ryan Cochrane and then took the ball off his feet before playing a dangerous low cross to the far post. Kheli Dube rushed onto it and made no mistake, firing low into the corner of the net to restore the visitors’ advantage.
After the New England goal, the game devolved into a sparring match on a much more literal level than most would like to see. Houston created one more clear chance through the head of Adrian Serioux, who put a point-blank header well over the bar.
The match had had its share of rough tackles and physical play already, but it finally went over the edge in stoppage time. Substitute Joseph Ngwenya saw straight red for a high studs-up challenge on Cory Gibbs. The sending-off may have been slightly harsh in light of previous challenges that had only warranted yellow cards, but Mark Geiger took a dim view of it.
After time added on for Gibbs’ injury, Pat Phelan got involved with Geoff Cameron in a challenge, and the Dynamo midfielder didn’t like that at all. He turned and shoved Phelan hard, catching him in the mouth with his elbow in the process. Geiger had no choice but to show him straight red, though even a yellow would have resulted in the Dynamo going down to nine men.
Due to concussion considerations, Phelan finished the match on the sideline and the Revolution earned a satisfying win on the road.
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