The Houston Dynamo have been knocked out of the MLS is Back Tournament in gut-wrenching fashion, as a late penalty kick from Cristian Pavon allowed the LA Galaxy to salvage a 1-1 draw in Group F play on Thursday evening.
Needing a victory to advance and leading thanks to a first-half free kick from Darwin Quintero, the Dynamo were right on the doorstep until yielding the late equalizer, which sends NYCFC through to the Knockout Stage. The Galaxy are also eliminated with the result.
Quintero put Houston on top on a 17th-minute free kick, as the 32-year-old attacker curled it in from 25 yards out past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham, who got caught flat-footed, and into the net.
That lead would stand all the way into the waning moments of the match, when Houston's Maynor Figueroa was whistled for a foul in own box, allowing Pavon to equalize from the spot and eliminate Houston from the tournament.
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
Pavon remains a bright spot on a struggling Galaxy squad and was rewarded for his efforts with the late PK.
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's a gutting way to see it all end for the Dynamo, who were just minutes from advancing. First-year coach Tab Ramos has some positive things to build on, but the prevailing feeling for Houston at the moment has to be nothing less than bitter disappointment. The Galaxy needed a three-goal win to advance, but they mostly found themselves short of ideas once again and are headed home early. Their issues extend beyond the absences of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Jonathan dos Santos in this one.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It has to be the late penalty on Figuerora, which wound up sealing Houston's fate.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: The set-piece finish is the first one of those Houston have had in a while, and the last one coincidentally came against the same opponent.
- LA: Eliminated from MLS is Back Tournament
- HOU: Eliminated from MLS is Back Tournament