The Houston Dynamo's last nine results were: win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win. So maybe we should have seen this coming.
On a night when the orange faithful wore white leis to welcome home star Brian Ching—snubbed in the U.S. national team’s final cut down on Wednesday—2010 first-overall draft pick Danny Mwanga stole the show with his second stoppage-time goal in as many games.
Houston nearly got on the board in the first minute when Union defender Michael Orozco committed the bugaboo of Philly’s back line this season—the ill-advised back pass to the keeper.
Orozco casually headed a ball to keeper Chris Seitz, which Houston striker Luis Landin intercepted. Orozco recovered and shoved Landin away to regain possession, but no foul was called.
That non-call began a pattern of the referee calling a loose game in the early part of the match, a development that favored the bruising Union. In the 7th minute Orozco knocked down Landin again in the Philly area, and again nothing was called.
In the 18th minute, Union defender Danny Califf—perhaps in support of Philadelphia Flyers, who were concurrently playing the first game of the Stanley Cup finals in Chicago—delivered a full-blown body check to a darting Danny Cruz.
Union midfielders Stefani Miglioranzi and Fred had uncharacteristically sloppy games, with late challenges and errant passes the order of the day. But it was another Philly midfielder—Shea Salinas—who opened the game’s scoring with a fantastic sequence in the 39th minute.
Salinas caught Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell napping on the right side of Houston's goal, stole possession, and made a run at keeper Pat Onstad. Salinas drew Onstad out and causally chipped the ball over his head to make it 1-0 Union.
Salinas was a surprise starter, taking the normal spot of Roger Torres. His play made Union head coach Peter Nowak look brilliant for his decision.
Ching replaced Landin at the start of the half, earning a large cheer from the Dynamo faithful.
Continuing a trend that began midway through the first half, the referee was calling the game more tightly.
Cristian Arrieta drew a yellow card in the 51st minute for his elbow of Cruz.
On the ensuing free kick, Houston's Brad Davis connected with Ching, who headed the ball in to make the score 1-1. The sequence will raise the ranks of Seitz doubters—the keeper did not react until the ball flew over him, and even then with a somewhat comical flapping of the arms.
In the 59th minute, it happened again—a Union yellow card led to a free kick that netted Houston a score. This time Miglioranzi was flagged for hooking Cruz over the shoulder. Again Davis sent the free kick, and this time Eddie Robinson had the scoring header.
Down a goal, the Union kept fighting. In the 69th minute, Torres—subbed in for Salinas seven minutes earlier—lofted a ball to Mwanga in the box. The rookie deftly tapped it to fellow Francophone Sebastien Le Toux, who sent a deflected shot home to make it 2-2.
Many MLS teams—too many—would have been content to play for the draw on the road, but in characteristic Nowak style, the Union kept pressing. They were rewarded in the 93rd minute.
As Alejando Moreno was falling to the ground, he snapped a ball forward to Le Toux down the right side. The Frenchman passed across the box to Mwanga, who showed the same extra-time touch he had two weeks ago against FC Dallas.
For more from Goal.com contributor Ramin Majd, follow him on Twitter @rmajd
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