COLUMBUS – Federico Higuaín came to the rescue with another penalty kick but the Columbus Crew's home woes continued with a 1-1 tie against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium.
Higuaín's penalty kick snapped a 294-minute home goalless streak the 69th minute, the Crew's first tally since another Higuaín penalty on April 27 vs. D.C. United.
The Dynamo (6-4-4) got a goal from Warren Creavalle on a 31st-minute counterattack, are 0-2-2 in the past four games and have not beaten the Crew in nine.
It was Higuaín's cheeky nutmeg to Matías Sánchez that started the sequence leading to the Crew's equalizer. Sánchez pushed the ball to Chad Barson, making his first MLS start, and the Homegrown rookie defender went down under Andrew Driver's challenge in the box.
Higuaín converted with a powerful shot, getting his fourth goal and third in four tries from the spot this season.
He then nearly put the Crew ahead in the 74th with a bending strike from 25 yards only to see his strik smack the right post. Justin Meram was alone in front of a wide-open goal, but scuffed the rebound over the bar.
Houston absorbed six quality chances by the Crew and just past the half hour mark struck back with a dash of speed and a clinical finish.
Dynamo right back Kofi Sarkodie sped past Justin Meram's slide tackle on a blazing run down the right before whipping a low cross to the center of the box. An unmarked Creavalle timed his run through the channel perfectly and one-timed the ball past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum for his third goal of 2013.
The goal didn't have the momentum-changing effect the Dynamo hoped it would, though, asthe Crew continued to find space and had three golden tries within four minutes near the end of the half.
First, Jairo Arrieta's volley from a seemingly impossible angle found itself rolling inside the far post, only for Hall to scramble and push it away at the last moment.
Hall was again at the ready a few minutes later, pushing away Higuaín's blast and recovering in time to deny Arrieta's follow-up shot.
In his absence, Arrieta returned from a two-game suspension and took his usual spot at forward, meaning Dominic Oduro dropped back into a wide midfield spot formerly occupied by Gaven.
The Dynamo had issues of their own with midfielders Brad Davis (United States) and Boniek Garcia (Honduras) away on international duty. Head coach Dominic Kinnear's side also missed the center back pairing of Bobby Boswell (suspension) and Jermaine Taylor (left shoulder injury).
Houston encountered more problems when former Crew defender Eric Brunner left in the 20th minute, with 2013 Supplemental Draft pick Anthony Arena coming on for his MLS debut. Brunner had cracked heads with the Crew's Dominic Oduro in the seventh minute.
Columbus are back in action almost immediately, traveling to face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. The Dynamo, however, face a long league layoff, not playing again until they travel to Montreal on June 19. Though do, however, travel FC Dallas in the US Open Cup on June 12.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Federico Higuaín||Made everything happen in the Crew attack and left no doubt on his powerful penalty kick|
|2||Tally Hall||Kept the Dynamo in the game, especially with a series of saves near the end of the first half. Finished with five stops on the night|
|3||Jairo Arrieta||Will be disappointed not to have scored, but his hold-up play and smart runs gave the Dynamo defense plenty to think about all evening|