By Ivan Yeo
It was almost there for the Houston Dynamo.
The Dynamo were moments away from its first road win of the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center. Alberth Ellis’ goal in the 74th minute was going to be deciding moment in the match and Houston was going to be alone in second place in the Western Conference.
Unfortunately, what happened next will leave Houston gnashing their teeth for the next six days. The Galaxy worked a counter attack and Romain Alessandrini tapped in a cross into an empty net despite clearly being in an offside position and the Galaxy instead salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw on a hot, humid Saturday night in Carson.
“We are upset. The players are upset,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “We lost two points today, but, it’s on us. We cannot give the responsibility to the linesman to allow that, or to the referees.”
The drama started when Emmanuel Boaeteng dribbled deep into Houston’s side of the field. Boateng chipped a cross to Jose Villarreal, who was just inside the penalty area, Villarreal passed a ball to Bradford Jaimeson, who then sent a cross into the six-yard box. During that whole time, Alessandrini had been behind the Dynamo backline as the whole play was building up, and Jamieson’s cross was actually intended for Ariel Lassiter, he missed, but the ball continued into the box and Alessandrini slid and buried the chance near post.
“I thought it was off-sides, because he was on my shoulder, not that I was on the line anyways, but he was pretty far in front of me,” AJ DeLaGarza said. “On the flipside of it, I don’t know why the referees would talk if he was just going to rule it a goal. It didn’t make sense.”
The Dynamo players and keeper Tyler Deric immediately raised their hands and confronted referee Hilario Grajeda and the linesman. Grajeda did confer with the linesman and after a few seconds, both men decided to let the goal stand. Alessandrini’s celebration was actually delayed, as he too was anticipating the flag going up from the linesman, and when it became apparent that that was not going to happen, Alessandrini went behind the net and acknowledged the fans.
“Tonight was very difficult because we had a lot of changes in the team, but the guys played good and we came back at the end of the game. When you come back like that, it’s like a win,” Alessandrini said.
The Dynamo meanwhile chose to take the high road.
“We have to be able to play 96, 97, 110. So, yes, It’s on us,” Cabrera said. “We have to continue, and if there’s someone to blame, it’s ourselves. We need to know that it’s going to be more difficult for us wherever we go. We cannot make one mistake, and we made two mistakes, and we got punished for the last one.”
After a tied first half, the Dynamo had edged ahead in the 74th minute. Oscar Boniek Garcia dispossessed Jose Villarreal, played a ball off Rafael Garcia’s challenge before whipping a forward ball to Alberth Elis. Elis took a few touches as he sprinted into the penalty area, Galaxy keeper Clement Diop came off his line and Elis chipped a ball over Diop into the back net to give Houston the lead again.
The Dynamo struck first in the 22nd minute. DeMarcus Beasley launched a laser from 23 yards out, Diop made the save, but left a juicy rebound in the box and Mauro Manotas made LA pay, as he buried home the point-blank shot. The Galaxy however had their say in the 35th minute, as a ball was cleared long out of the LA penalty area, Alessandrini brought it down, took a few touches, played a ball forward that spilt the Houston defense to a sprinting Boateng. Boateng quickly raced for goal, Deric came off his line, but Boateng rounded him rather easily and sent the ball into the empty net for LA’s first equalizer.
“It was a game that we needed to score since we went down 1-0 at home,” Boateng said. “We just needed to insert some energy in the game and I saw a chance to make a play so I went up and Romain gave me a great ball, we headed down and scored to even up the game.”
The Galaxy will be plenty busy next week, first, a midweek match against Colorado and Dick’s Sports Goods Park, then a home match against the Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Houston will surely be looking to take out their frustrations in its next match, and the settings could not be anymore perfect for Houston, as they will host FC Dallas in the second edition of the Lone Star Derby next Friday.