May 11, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kei Kamara (23) celebrates Vancouver Whitecaps forward Jose Aja (18) goal against Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis (23) (not pictured) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Whitecaps were seconds from losing at home to the Houston Dynamo, but Kendall Waston made sure the home crowd left on a high note. The Costa Rican scored off a header on the last play of the game to steal back a point.
Houston (3-3-3, 12 points) got the game’s first goal, and well deserved as the Orange dominated play in the first half. Tomás Martínes received the ball from Alberth Elis just outside the box and quickly took a left-footed shot that hit the back of the net.
The Whitecaps (4-5-2, 14 points) returned the favor a minute before the first-half whistle, playing a quick free kick Waston, who got around Mauro Manotas. He received the ball just as it reached the end line and crossed it toward goal, where fellow centerback Jóse Aja flicked it into the net for his first career MLS goal.
The Whitecaps came out in the second half looking to take the lead, and they nearly did on multiple occasions. After controlling play and botching at least two potential game-winners, Vancouver looked like it would settle for a draw at home. Then, Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas managed to get ahold of a loose ball in the box and blast it past Whitecaps ‘keeper Brian Rowe in the 90th minute. The visitors took a 2-1 lead.
But the Whitecaps were far from done.
In the last play of the game, a free kick, Kei Kamara connected with the ball and headed it toward goal, where Waston rose above Dynamo defender Andrew Wenger to head it past Dynamo keeper Joe Willis. Instead of settling for a draw, Vancouver celebrated a last-second comeback.
Here are three thoughts from the Houston Dynamo’s 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps:
Coughing up leads
The Houston Dynamo have a sickness, and that’s coughing up leads.
Houston was seconds from securing its first road win of the year, but a Vancouver goal in the 94th minute kept that from happening. Instead, Houston settled for another road draw and a single point. Yet again, Houston leaves points on the field.
With the Vancouver draw, Houston has now lost leads against DC United, the San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota United and the LA Galaxy. Only a last-minute goal against LA turned that game from a sultry draw into a Houston victory.
The Dynamo didn’t just give up the lead once Friday, they lost it twice. Worse yet for the Orange is that Vancouver’s goals came at the end of each half. If Houston has aspirations of making the playoffs for consecutive years, it’s going to have to stop coughing up leads and learn how to protect them.
A tale of two halves
Houston had no reason win against Vancouver based on its second-half performance.
While the Dynamo dominated the game in the first half, they were a shell of themselves in the second half. In the first half, Houston was in complete control of the match and enjoyed the bulk of possession. As the second half got underway, Houston forgot about possession and instead opted to send long balls into Manotas. That proved to be the wrong tactic as the Colombian striker had to contend with the height of the Whitecap centerbacks Waston, 6-foot-5, and Aja, 6’4.
Houston’s only legitimate offensive threat in the second half came when Manotas scored. On the defensive side, Houston needed a Joe Willis point-blank save and three goal-line clearances just to keep the game level at 1-1.
Head coach Wilmer Cabrera also made an odd decision to sub off Tomás Martínes and Alberth Elis in the 70th minute, two of Houston’s biggest difference makers on the field.
Injuries piling up
The Dynamo add two more injuries to its list as DaMarcus Beasley was a late scratch from the game for what is being reported as precautionary measures.
To make matter worse, Dynamo midfielder Darwin Cerén exited the game in the 14th minute from what appears to be a right knee injury. Houston is already without one of its stalwart players in Juan David Cabezas — who Cerén has replaced in the starting lineup.
Also on the injury report is left back Dylan Remick, who’s been working himself back from a concussion. If Cerén can’t go, it could open the door for Dynamo’s homegrown player Memo Rodriguez, or recently signed Luis Gil to play in the midfield spot next to Eric Alexander.