The Houston Dynamo were able to clinch a playoff spot with their 1-1 draw with Kansas City, but remain tied with Los Angeles for the top spot in the Western Conference.
With the point, they make the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Kansas City is not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but really needed a victory and three points rather than a tie. Kansas City was able to tie late after trailing for the majority of the game, but could have done more as Houston was playing with only ten men.
Kansas City forward Kei Kamara was looking for redemption against his old team early on in this one but was unable to capitalize on a wide-open shot that hit the crossbar in the 13th minute.
Houston responded just a minute later when Brad Davis ripped a toward goal, but Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was able to punch it down and out.
The Orange was able to move the ball effectively throughout the first half keeping the ball on the turf and playing quick combination play.
Kansas City was playing more long ball, trying to find Kamara over the top behind the Houston defense. Houston’s defense held strong, though, keeping its shape and drawing a very active Kamara offsides multiple times.
In the 17th minute, Houston forward Cam Weaver took down Wizards midfielder Santiago Hirsig from behind. Hirsig did a wonderful job selling the foul as he rolled around violently on the turf. Weaver was given a red card, forcing Houston to play with only ten men the rest of the match.
Kansas City was looking to gain some momentum with the extra man. Forward Claudio Lopez started getting more involved as he took a free kick from about 25 yards out, curving it around Houston’s wall but putting it wide of the goal in the 22nd minute. Lopez had another goal scoring opportunity three minutes later, but once again put the ball wide of the mark after unloading a shot from the top of the box.
What little momentum Kansas City was building they quickly lost after Houston midfielder Brian Mullan used some fancy foot work to create space between him and defender Michael Harrington in the 27th minute, before crossing the ball on the ground to the back post. Luis Angel Landin easily drove the ball home giving Houston a 1-0 lead.
It was Mullan’s fourth assist of the year and Landin’s first goal of the season.
Mullan was in the spotlight again in the 29th minute when he slid into Kansas City goalie Kevin Hartman. Mullan, who already had one yellow card, was fortunate not to receive another one and put his team down two men.
After the ejection in the 17th minute, Kansas City still looked to go long but started moving the ball around more from side to side making a short-sided Houston team to run more and cover more space.
Houston’s defense worked hard to keep the ball in front of them in the first half and did a job of it, denying KC of any real quality chances.
The Wizards came out attacking aggressively in the second half putting a lot of pressure on Houston’s back four. Houston was up to the challenge, though, keeping Kansas City out of the box.
After being largely responsible for Houston’s first half goal, Harrington was looking to help get his team an equalizer. Within the first five minutes of the half, Harrington made quality runs out of the back and put two good crosses into the box. The crosses were just a tad too high for the Wizards’ attackers, but showed that the Houston defense might be starting to get tired.
For as much time as Kansas City spent in Houston territory at the start of the half, they had nothing to show for it, as in the 65th minute they still hadn’t put a shot on goal.
Houston looked content with sitting back and playing strong defense, trying to not get too stretched out being a man down. However, the Orange was still able to attack effectively when the opportunity presented itself.
Two major players in the first half would find their day cut short. Kamara, who had Kansas City’s best goal scoring opportunity of the first half, was taken out in the 62nd minute for forward Zoltan Hercegfalvi. Houston’s Landin was taken out in the 63rd for forward Dominic Oduro.
Both subs made immediate impacts. Oduro found himself wide-open 15 yards from goal, upon receiving the ball, though, he made a mess of the golden opportunity and skied the ball over the bar. Had the shot gone in, in the 69th minute, the Orange would have gone up 2-0 possibly putting the game out of reach.
Just four minutes later, Kansas City’s Lopez was finally able to crack Houston’s defense, chipping a ball behind the Houston backline to Hercegfalvi, who one-touch volleyed the ball onto goal. Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad was able to get his body on the shot but it wasn’t enough as the ball eventually found its way into the back of the net.
The 73rd minute equalizer was Hercegfalvi’s first MLS goal and Lopez’s eighth assist on the year.
After the goal, Kansas City gained some momentum and started putting more pressure on Houston. Houston put an extra man back on defense, giving them five defenders as they tried to hard not to give up a game-winning goal.
Kansas City pushed up and created some goal scoring opportunities but was unable to finish anything, much like the first half. The Wizards received a point for the tie but really needed a win as they are still fighting for a playoff spot.
Scott Guthrie, Goal.com
For more on Major League Soccer, visit Goal.com's MLS page