The Philadelphia Union overcame an early deficit and scored twice after going up a man on a soft red card in the second half to win their first game in Houston since 2011 on Wednesday night.
Óscar Boniek García caught the Union defense out and set up Mauro Manotas’s 11th goal of the season just 10 minutes into the match. On the play, rookie Mark McKenzie came out to defend Manotas, who squared the ball to García and was able to get inside position on McKenzie when he received the pass back and put the goal away past Andre Blake.
The Dynamo would have a couple chances to add to their lead and looked threatening in possession and on counter attacks, but McKenzie and company were able to settle in as the game wore on. McKenzie made a key 1v1 tackle on a counter attack late in the first half with the score tied 1-1.
The Union’s equalizer came in the 34th minute on a sneaky pass from Borek Dockal, who found Alejandro Bedoya running into the box and set him up for a lovely chipped finish.
“I make these runs late in behind their defense and I was able to get the ball, Borek toe poked it and it just went right through the center back and I was able to get on the end of it and chip the goalie,” Bedoya said. “1-1 at that point, I’m just happy to get the three points.”
For once, it was the Union taking advantage of their chances and their opponent that went into the locker room thinking they played well enough and created enough goal-scoring opportunities to be leading.
Missed chances would come back to haunt the Dynamo when, after video review, Tomas Martinez was shown red for a late challenge in the box on Auston Trusty. There was no question that Martinez fouled Trusty, but it’s debatable whether it was deserving of red.
Unbelievable that anyone (even an #MLS ref) could watch this on Video Review, and give Tomás Martínez a straight red card. People said Video Review was all about getting the calls correct.....instead there are just even more shocking and unacceptable errors. #HOUvPHI #VAR #NoVAR pic.twitter.com/reb5mR10o4— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) July 26, 2018
The Union, victims of some questionable referee decisions that left them with nine men in Atlanta earlier this season, were not complaining about the call and were able to make the most of their man advantage while limiting chances the other way in the closing 30 minutes plus eight minutes of stoppage time.
The breakthrough they needed came in the 70th minute when Dockal sent another weighted ball in the box to Burke, who did well to put the ball between the legs of Joe Willis for the eventual game-winning goal.
The assist was the ninth of the season for Dockal and the goal kept alive Burke’s streak of scoring in every game he’s started this season (5 goals in four starts).
Burke’s reward for the goal was subbing out for Fabian Herbers, who marked his first appearance for the first team since March by drawing a penalty in the box that set up Picault’s insurance goal from the penalty spot six minutes deep in stoppage time.
Andre Blake had another outstanding game in goal with several key interventions. He finished the night with four saves.
The win marked the first time the Union have won consecutive games away from home since August 2016 and moved the blue and gold within a point of fifth and sixth place teams Montreal Impact and New England Revolution with a game in hand.
“Obviously, the red card changes the game and we were able to capitalize,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “It wasn’t a beautiful game by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to find ways to grind out wins in this league midweek in the summer.”