Road Warriors! Union beat the Dynamo in Houston, 3-1

The Philadelphia Union defeated the short-handed Houston Dynamo 3-1 on a hot and humid Houston summer night Wednesday.

Alejandro Bedoya and Cory Burke both scored from the run of play, while Fafa Picault converted a penalty. Mauro Manotas scored the lone goal for Houston. The win gave them their first back-to-back victories on the road in two years.

Union first XI: Blake; Gaddis, Trusty, McKenzie, Rosenberry; Bedoya, Medunjanin; Picault, Dockal, Accam; Burke

Dynamo first XI: Willis; Lundvkist, Fuenmayor, Watts, Machado; Ceren, Garcia, Martinez; Quioto, Manotas, Elis

The first half saw the sides evenly matched, with both sides threatening. It was the speed of Houston’s counter and some sloppy play from the U that set up the first goal just ten minutes in, when Oscar Boniek Garcia slipped Mauro Manotas into the box where he beat Union keeper Andre Blake low and to the farside for a quick 1-0 lead, lending to the sinking feeling for many a Union support of “here we go again”. The Union continued to work however, and in front of some more good goalkeeping by Blake, the boys in blue struck back just after the half hour mark. Borek Dockal found a streaking Alejandro Bedoya alone in the box on a perfectly-timed run, and the American national easily chipped Houston keeper Joe Willis to equalize. Bedoya’s run was inch-perfect, and despite of the pleas for a video review reversal from the men in orange, the goal stood. The U continued to live dangerously as perhaps conditions took their toll, not passing the ball crisply and giving the lethal Houston counter chance after chance, but the combination of Blake and some good recovery runs by the back line was enough to keep the Dynamo off of the board again until the two sides went into the room at the half tied at one.

As the match wore on into the second half, Houston became more and more frustrated, committing fouls and engaging in increasingly physical play. They finally crossed the line in the 59th minute when Tomas Martinez gave Auston Trusty a run-by stomping in the Houston box, firmly planting his spikes into Trusty’s foot and ankle. The infraction wasn’t initially caught by referee Joseph Dickerson but the video review referee caught it and alerted him to it as a dangerous play/possible red card which he then decided it was, justly sending Martinez off with a straight red and putting Houston down a man as the Dynamo confronted him protesting the call. This was the turning point in the match, as the Union made full use of the extra space on the field, working it around with Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya and through Borek Dockal to set up the offense. It was Dockal again who set the plate for the second goal, this one by Cory Burke, who took a pass from Dockal in the box, took a touch to the keeper’s left, and then coolly slid the ball between the keeper’s legs for a 2-1 Union lead in the 70th minute.

The boys in blue played the ball around the field, killing time but taking their chances when they presented themselves, making the short-handed Dynamo run in the unfavorable conditions. A run and shot by Fafa Picault hit side netting, and later he just missed picking a corner. A curler by Haris Medunjanin missed by an inch. They kept playing, and finally in stoppage, Fabian Herbers (who came on for Cory Burke just seconds after Burke scored his goal) danced past the Houston back line and was brought down in the box unceremoniously. There was no hesitation from the referee as he pointed to the spot, where moments later Fafa Picault sent Willis the wrong way and put the ball into the top left of the net for the final tally.

Notes: The Union have scored more goals (9) than any MLS team in the last fifteen minutes of the first half… Cory Burke now has five goals in four starts… the win put the Union one point away (27) from a playoff spot, and they have a match in hand on Montreal, one of two teams who is on 28 points (the other being New England)… this match could be a preview of the US Open Cup Finals. If both teams win in the semifinals, the match will be played in Houston.

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