TORONTO - For 93 and a half minutes, it looked like Toronto FC were going to get their first home league win since last July 18. They needed to last 94 minutes.
A 94th-minute equalizing goal from an unlikely source, defensive midfielder Warren Creavalle, snatched a point for 10-man Houston Dynamo in a 1-1 draw on a frigid and windy Saturday afternoon in front of 15, 973 in attendance at BMO Field. Toronto took the lead through an equally unlikely source, converted holding midfielder Jeremy Hall, in the 58th minute.
Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor was shown a red card for a foul on Robert Earnshaw while both were racing for a loose ball over the top.
With their fourth draw in a row, Toronto remain unbeaten at home, their longest unbeaten run in the league since a five-match stretch in late June/early July of last year. Houston continued the up-and-down nature of their early campaign, and are still looking for their first road win of the season.
Both sides showed clear intent to go for all three points in the first half, particularly TFC, who outshot Houston 16-7 on the day.
Toronto came closest in just the 6th minute, when striker Robert Earnshaw nearly added to his league-leading tally of five goals, but his curling rocket clanged off the crossbar.
The Dynamo's Ricardo Clark almost fired a shot into the lower corner in the 23rd minute when he ran onto a cross from the left at the top of the box.
Houston suffered a major setback at halftime, when midfielder Brad Davis, who had a quiet first 45, was subbed off.
Within minutes, his creative counterpart, Luis Silva, nearly broke the deadlock in TFC's favor. The playmaker ran onto a clever back-flick from Hogan Ephraim in the Houston area in the 51st minute, but he scuffed his shot wide of the target.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Silva and Hall run the TFC midfield
Silva was then involved in Hall's goal in the 58th minute. Silva's dummy in the box created havoc in Houston's backline, and their clearance did not go far enough. Hall stepped up from his holding midfield position, won the 50-50 ball over Giles Barnes, and drove a low shot into the corner. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall slipped as he tried to get across, but in the end there was nothing he could do.
Four minutes later, a moment that will surely spark some debate arose when Taylor was sent off. A long ball from Silva released Earnshaw on the run, side by side with Taylor. Taylor appeared to catch Earnshaw with his extended arm, though replays indicated the contact was less impactful than Earnshaw's reaction made it seem.
Toronto turned their man advantage into several good chances, including a spectacular bicycle kick from Earnshaw in the 63rd minute and Justin Braun's diving header saved by Hall in the 69th minute.
Houston pushed for the equalizer late, and it came in stoppage time. Clark outjumped everyone to redirect a corner kick goalward, and Creavalle redirected it past helpless goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Houston are next in action on Sunday, April 28 as they face off at home against the Colorado Rapids. Toronto, meanwhile, will try to kick off their Canadian Championship title defense against Montreal on Wednesday in another home fixture at BMO Field.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jeremy Hall (TOR)||This deserves an assist, really, since Silva was so good alongside him, but Hall got the goal, so...|
|2||Corey Ashe (HOU)||He did what he could, pushing into the attack and still tracking back, despite his side being down a man.|
|3||Darren O'Dea (TOR)||The captain didn't put a foot wrong (until stoppage time), neutralizing Bruin, Barnes, and whoever came out of the midfield either with a tackle or positioning.|