HOUSTON – Aurelien Collin was not a popular guy in Houston before Sunday night. After his 73rd-minute winner that’s not likely to change.
The Sporting center back – who has drawn the ire of several Dynamo players in the past – struck again versus Houston, heading in a goal to earn his team a 1-0 win and end Houston’s record home unbeaten streak at 36 games in all competitions. Sporting became the first team to win in Houston since June 18, 2011.
Seth Sinovic found Collin on a long throw-in into the penalty area and the center back flicked the ball past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, despite the best efforts of Corey Ashe to clear the shot off the line.
The result draws Sporting even with Houston on 20 points, putting them in second place in the Eastern Conference, with both teams plus the Montreal Impact sitting a point behind the New York Red Bulls.
OPTA Chalkboard: Sporting's backline holds firm in physical contest
After Collin’s goal, the Dynamo switched from a back four to three defenders and immediately saw an increase in their pressure.
In the 80th minute rookie Jason Johnson, who had entered minutes earlier nearly saved the Dynamo’s streak. He put a bouncing header off a corner kick over Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen, only to see Paulo Nagamura move across well to clear off the line.
A minute later, Ricardo Clark lined up a shot that tested Nielsen but the Dane was up to the task with a diving stop. Andrew Driver had a close call in the 84th-minute, striking a left-to-right shot inches wide of the far post.
Though the game was action packed in the final 15 minutes, the start was much more metered.
The first half was a stalemate with more physical challenges than clear looks on goal, not much of a surprise for two teams that knew each other extremely well after playing nine games in the past two seasons.
Sporting had more of the game early and more shots to show for it. Oriol Rosell and Claudio Bieler both had looks from the edge of the penalty box but their low liners through a crowd both wound up in the belly of a well-stationed Hall.
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Although Sporting outshot Houston 7-3 in the first half, Houston picked up the energy in the final 15 minutes.
Brad Davis forced Nielsen into his only save of the half when he curled in a 25th-minute free kick from 30 yards out, only for the Dane to make the save sliding to his left.
Collin's lunge on Clark, which brought about the chance, earned the Frenchman his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning he and Rosell – who saw his fifth yellow of 2013 for persistent infringement – will both miss out on Sporting's trip to D.C. United with a mandatory one-game suspension.
Houston are also back in action next week, and will host the New England Revolution in a rematch of the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Aurelien Collin||Got the all-important goal and provided another uncompromising defensive performance and clean sheet|
|2||Seth Sinovic||His long throws were a real threat in the game, as evidenced by the goal, and the Sporting left back got up and down the flank well, contributing on both sides of the ball|
|3||Andrew Driver||Houston winger generated a fair number of chances throughout the night, tracked back well, and saw a spectacular 84th minute effort fly inches wide of the post|