HOUSTON — Home Grown rookie Alex Dixon picked the perfect time to score his first-ever MLS goal, tallying in stoppage time to give the Houston Dynamo a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.
Dixon picked up a deflected shot and found space in the middle of a crowded box before hitting a sterling left-footed strike to the far post, sending the 16,247 home happy.
The Dynamo twice had to rally from a goal down to keep their unbeaten record at home against RSL intact as Fabián Espíndola and Luis Gil kept the visitors ahead either side of halftime.
However, Brian Ching combined with Brad Davis to tie things at 1-1 in the second half, and Bobby Boswell hit his fourth of the season to bring the score level once again for the Dynamo.
On the back of Dixon’s late heroics, Houston improve to 35 points and jump into second place in the Eastern Conference ahead of a road match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 27. RSL remain on 36 points and will travel to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA, also Aug. 27.
Dixon's goal proved the difference in a physical, back-and-forth battle. RSL came out the locker room as the aggressor and set a physical tone to the match, and they got the better of the early chances with Espíndola and Kyle Beckerman both testing the goal in the first 10 minutes.
Houston came close to opening the scoring twice within a matter of minutes but both Geoff Cameron and Carlo Costly came up empty.
RSL made the Dynamo pay for a momentary lapse of concentration when Espíndola latched on to a deflected pass in the 28th minute and beat Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to the far post for the 1-0 lead at the half.
Houston turned the tables on RSL in the second half, though, coming out of the break firing on all cylinders. Their early aggression paid off following a beautiful combination involving Costly, Davis — who notched his league-leading 12th and 13th assists on the night — and Ching that drew Houston level in the 47th minute.
Costly laid a deft pass off to Davis at the top of the box, who fought through two defenders to square a ball to the Houston captain. Ching then poked a shot out of Rimando’s reach to put the score at 1-1.
Luis Gil came close to putting RSL back in front after dancing past Tally Hall, but the 17-year-old hit his shot just wide. However, he would not miss twice when just a minute later the youngster split Hunter Freeman and Bobby Boswell to latch onto an Espíndola cross and head home RSL’s second of the night.
With Houston frantic to pull the goal back, the Dynamo put their foot on the gas but came up empty on a handful of chances.
Their fortunes changed in the 70 minute, though, when Davis notched his second assist of the night by finding Boswell at the near post on a corner kick. The defender hit a curling header with the top of his head that landed on the far-side netting to level the score at 2-2 with 20 minutes to go.
RSL -- Fabian Espindola 7 (Collen Warner 4) 28
HOU -- Brian Ching 5 (Brad Davis 12, Carlo Costly 1) 47
RSL -- Luis Gil 2 (Fabian Espindola 2) 60
HOU -- Bobby Boswell 4 (Brad Davis 13) 69
HOU -- Alex Dixon 1 (unassisted) 93+
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Reckless Foul) 33
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution; Reckless Foul) 58
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson (caution; Reckless Foul) 60
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio (caution; Reckless Tackle) 67
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, Collen Warner (Andy Williams 46), Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil, Arturo Alvarez (Jean Alexandre 85), Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola (Paulo Araujo Jr. 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Rauwshan McKenzie, Blake Wagner, Kyle Reynish.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark (Alex Dixon 80), Geoff Cameron, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Calen Carr 89), Carlo Costly (Cam Weaver 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Adam Garner
4th Official: John McCloskey
Time of Game: 1:56
Weather: Clear and 93 degrees