HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo booked their place into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals after coming from behind to tie Honduran side Olimpia 1-1 on Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
For the second time in CCL group play, Olimpia found out just how dangerous Houston's Nathan Sturgis can be on a corner. In the 65th minute of the Group 3 finale, Sturgis delivered a ball to fellow central defender Andre Hainault and the Canadian snapped a header into the goal to secure the result Houston needed.
The goal was a mirror image the Sturgis-Adam Moffat connection that earned Houston a 1-1 result in Tegucigalpa on Aug. 30.
The second-half equalizer capped a night that, by any standard, got out of control.
Olimpia pushed the Dynamo early and often bringing a lot of energy to the match in the first half. While Houston dominated the possession, the visitors had the better of the shots and in the 21st minute forward Douglas Caetano capitalized to push the Dynamo on the brink of elimination.
After a Calen Carr foul on Olimpia's Javier Portillo on the left side, Caetano stepped up to lace a searing set-piece rocket at the Dynamo goal. Houston 'keeper Tyler Deric seemingly expected a ball into the box and he could only paw at the ball as it found its way into the roof of the net to give Olimpia a surprise 1-0 lead.
That is when the extracurriculars kicked into high gear.
In the span of five minutes, Houston’s tempers raised several notches after a couple of disputed incidents in the match. Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear took exception and earned himself a 40th-minute ejection from referee Juan Carlos Guerra.
The feistiness continued into the second half and with seven cards total – six yellow and one red to Olimpia's Brayan Beckeles in the 79th minute – Hainault’s goal was one of the few moments of quality soccer in the second half.
Dynamo forward Cam Weaver came close to doubling the lead in the 77th minute, but he headed a pinpoint Carr cross against the right post.
Kinnear opted to field what was largely a reserve side against Olimpia, with Je-Vaughn Watson, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Mac Kandji coming off the bench in the second half.
The Dynamo conclude their MLS regular-season campaign on Saturday night with a trip to Colorado, where they hope to pick up precious points in their quest to improve their playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.