New York continued its domination of Houston but the Dynamo rallied to tie the 10-man Red Bulls ahead of Wednesday's second leg.
The New York Red Bulls’ domination of the Houston Dynamo in BBVA Compass Stadium lasted 45 minutes too short for the Supporters’ Shield winners, and the teams go into the second leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal level after a 2-2 draw.
The Red Bulls were the better side at the start, stirring memories of their two blowout victories in Houston during the regular season. Tim Cahill’s opener in the 22nd minute did nothing to assuage home fans' fears of a repeat. Thierry Henry smartly let a pass move by him as he dialed up a perfect cross to Cahill who skied above several Dynamo defenders to head in an easy goal.
Cahill was involved again 10 minutes later when he put a Dax McCarty pass into the area and sprung Eric Alexander. The midfielder cut past a defender and delivered his right-footed shot into the near post past Tally Hall.
New York would’ve been happy to take a 2-0 advantage home to Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, a fact that was too apparent. The Dynamo were lifted after the break, despite the suspension of Dom Kinnear depriving them of a halftime speech from their manager.
The visitors didn’t help their own cause either. Five minutes into the second half, left back David Carney cleared a Brad Davis cross directly to Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark at the top of the 18. The veteran chested the ball down and hit a volley that took a slight deflection and went into Luis Robles’ net.
Robles would again be betrayed by his back line in the 65th minute when center back Jamison Olave was given a straight red card by referee Ricardo Salazar because of a scissor tackle on substitute Omar Cummings.
The Red Bulls staved off several Houston attacks in the remaining 25 minutes but couldn’t stop Cummings in stoppage time.
Bobby Boswell headed a Davis corner kick which Robles could only knock into the path to the Jamaican, who scooted in the equalizer from close range. The Dynamo had a penalty shout just before the final whistle when Cummings was brought down by Ibrahim Sekagya, but Salazar wasn’t interested and the teams head into Wednesday’s second leg equal.