COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two second-half penalty kicks by Andrés Mendoza put 10-man Columbus ahead late, but Houston’s Calen Carr capped a bizarre game with a goal just minutes from time as the teams played to a 2-2 tie in Crew Stadium on Wednesday.
Carr, who entered in the 68th minute, was at the edge of the goal box and slotted home a cross from Geoff Cameron in the 86th minute to prevent either side from breaking their respective winless streaks.
The Crew went down to 10 men in the 11th minute when midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo was sent off for a high forearm to the face of ex-teammate Adam Moffat, and trailed by a goal after Je-Vaughn Watson’s marker in the 34th minute.
It was an athletic finish by a leaping Watson that gave the Dynamo the lead. He went over Chad Marshall near the left post to snap a header past goalkeeper William Hesmer after taking a pinpoint cross from the right flank by Jermaine Taylor.
Watson’s first career goal ended the Dynamo’s 213-minute scoreless streak and was their first against Columbus in 313 minutes, dating back to Sept. 13, 2009.
Marshall, who had played every minute this season, left the game at halftime with an undisclosed injury.
The Crew, however, stayed compact and were able to get the equalizer just under 20 minutes into the second half.
It came from the spot when referee Chris Penso called a handball on Cam Weaver after Eric Gehrig sent a hopeful cross into the middle of the box. Mendoza made no mistake, sending Tally Hall the wrong way to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute.
The second PK came 12 minutes later. Off a corner kick, the Crew’s Dilly Duka had a shot lined up but was kicked in the stomach by Watson and had to leave the game. Penso again pointed to the spot, and Mendoza collected his 11th of the season to make it 2-1.
That set up Carr’s late heroics. The forward was on the end of a nice attacking move that saw Cameron sneak onto a slip-pass from Danny Cruz, then send a low cross to the corner of the six yard box. Carr was able to turn onto it and lash it into the roof of the net for what would prove to be the game’s final goal.
With the draw, the Crew (11-10-7, 41 points) moved a point atop the Eastern Conference over Sporting Kansas City. Columbus next face Philadelphia at PPL Park on Saturday.
Houston (8-9-12, 36), meanwhile, moved into a third-place tie with Philadelphia although the Union have played two fewer matches. The Dynamo host San Jose on Saturday.
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson 1 (Jermaine Taylor 1, Adam Moffat 1) 34
CLB -- Andres Mendoza 10 (penalty kick) 64
CLB -- Andres Mendoza 11 (penalty kick) 76
HOU -- Calen Carr 1 (Geoff Cameron 5, Danny Cruz 2) 86
CLB -- Emmanuel Ekpo (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 11
HOU -- Jermaine Taylor (caution; Reckless Foul) 55
CLB -- Robbie Rogers (caution; Reckless Foul) 67
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Je-Vaughn Watson (Danny Cruz 77), Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Colin Clark 68), Brad Davis, Cam Weaver, Will Bruin (Calen Carr 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Hunter Freeman, Jason Garey, Andre Hainault, Tyler Deric.
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall (Eric Gehrig 46), Julius James, Shaun Francis, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 76), Emmanuel Ekpo, Danny O'Rourke, Robbie Rogers, Andres Mendoza (Dejan Rusmir 89), Tommy Heinemann.
Substitutes Not Used: Rich Balchan, Jeff Cunningham, Josh Gardner, Chris Konopka.
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Steven Taylor; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Cloudy and 67 degrees