Matias Vera scored his second goal of the season on a thunderous 25-yard strike shortly before halftime to help Houston Dynamo FC earn a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday night.
HIGHLIGHTS: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Houston Dynamo FC | July 24, 2021
Cristian Espinoza's free-kick service pressured Dynamo fullback Zarek Valentin into an own-goal deep into first-half stoppage time in a match that finished with a familiar result for both clubs.
The Earthquakes have drawn four matches in a row in what's now an 11-match winless stretch, and the Dynamo now have six draws during their own eight-game run without a victory.
San Jose had arguably the more dangerous chances after halftime, thinking they won it in second-half stoppage time when Carlos Fierro's free kick from the left flank nestled inside the far right post.
But assistant referee Cory Richardson judged Andy Rios to be offside and involved in the play, and video assistant referee Hilario Grajeda didn't deem it worthy of review.
Referee Matthew Thompson later sent off Fierro for retaliation after a foul by Houston forward Maxi Urruti.
Thompson made his debut as an MLS referee after beginning the night as the fourth official, taking over when Ted Unkel departed following a collision with San Jose center back Nathan.
Unkel re-emerged from the stadium corridors after halftime with the bridge of his nose bandaged.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Houston may have been the happier side to escape with a point, but neither of these teams can afford to settle for draws much longer. Both San Jose manager Matias Almeyda (third year) and Houston boss Tab Ramos (second year) are in the longest winless runs of their respective tenures.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Vera's strike was a rare moment of brilliance in a match that needed it. It was enough to secure just his second career MLS goal after not scoring in 2019 or 2020.
GOAL: Matías Vera, Houston Dynamo FC - 40th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Maxi Urruti. This is an unorthodox one, since Urruti is a striker who rarely found himself in scoring situations on Saturday night. But despite occupying the No. 9 role, he was second on the Dynamo in duels with 14 -- winning eight -- while also suffering a game-high four fouls. That kind of work doesn't show up on the highlight reel, but it's essential when you're not playing your best as a team and trying to earn a result anyway.
- SJ: Saturday, July 31 at Seattle Sounders | 5 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- HOU: Saturday, July 31 vs. Real Salt Lake | 8:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)