Two penalty kick goals by forward Andres Mendoza helped the Columbus Crew to earn a 2-2 tie against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night at Crew Stadium in front of 10,709 fans. The tie gives Columbus 41 points (11-9-8) and sole possession of first place in the East. Houston moves to 8-9-12 (36 points).
Houston scored first in the 34th minute. Moffat played the ball wide to Jermaine Taylor. Taylor’s cross from the right side found Je-Vaughn Watson, who out-jumped Chad Marshall and headed the ball home.
Columbus was able to level the game in the 64th minute. After a free kick, Eric Gehrig collected the ball near the right side box and sent it back in. The ball hit Cam Weaver in the arm, and the referee pointed to the spot. Andres Mendoza stepped up to take the penalty, and he placed the ball inside the left post for his team-leading 11th goal of the season in all competitions.
Mendoza would strike once more, again from the penalty spot. Off a Shaun Francis corner, Je-Vaughn Watson’s attempted clearance resulted in him kicking Crew midfielder Dilly Duka right in the stomach. The ref signaled for a penalty again. Mendoza stepped up, and this time, he struck the ball to the right side of the goal, beating Houston goalie Tally Hall in the 76th minute. Mendoza is 5 for 5 on penalties this season.
However, the win for Columbus wasn’t in the soccer gods’ cards on Wednesday night. The Dynamo equalized in the 86th minute, after Geoff Cameron’s low cross found Calen Carr wide open right in the middle of the box. Carr blasted the ball into the top of the net and past William Hesmer.
Chad Marshall was subbed out of the game at half-time due to a hip injury. Danny O’Rourke and Shaun Francis both made their first starts of the MLS season on Wednesday after being sidelined with injuries.
The Crew travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union on Saturday night, while the Dynamo host the San Jose Earthquakes.
Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall (Eric Gehrig 46), Julius James, Shaun Francis, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 76), Emmanuel Ekpo, Danny O’Rourke, Robbie Rogers, Andres Mendoza (Dejan Rusmir 89), Tommy Heinemann.
Houston Dynamo – Tally Hall, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Je-Vaughn Watson (Danny Cruz 77), Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Colin Clark 68), Brad Davis, Cam Weaver, Will Bruin (Calen Carr 68).
Before the game, the Columbus Crew launched their “Dare To Be Massive” campaign with hopes of getting their season-ticket base to 10,000 seats (Goal 10k). The team, Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, and Columbus City Council member Zach Klein were among those that attended at Columbus Commons on Wednesday morning.