Despite taking a lead early in the second half, D.C. United's troubles in Houston continued on Saturday night, as the Houston Dynamo fought back for a 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. Wayne Rooney's goal 25 seconds into the second half was negated by two goals in two minutes from substitutes Memo Rodriguez and Tommy McNamara. Paul Arriola then got a red card late on, harming United's chances of grabbing a late equalizer.
A couple of days after heavily rotating his side and using another formation, head coach Ben Olsen brought back in all his usual starters, reverting to the 4-2-3-1 formation. The only slight difference was Arriola was the second midfielder alongside Russel Canouse, with both Junior Moreno and Chris Durkin unavailable for the game.
In the first minute of the game, a clash of heads between Steven Birnbaum and Albert Elis halted the proceedings. Both players were tended to, with Birnbaum visible bleeding. Both returned to the field, but in the 10th minute, Elis went down and was taken out of the game, replaced by Memo Rodriguez.
Shortly after Elis' departure, United came close to taking the lead. In the 12th minute, a shot or cross from Marquinhos Pedroso fizzed right past the face of the goal, where Rooney was in some space. However, the sliding Rooney just missed getting a touch on the ball in front of the goal. A minute later Rooney did get a shot away, but his effort from outside the box was off target.
It was a decent start from the visitors, but as the half wore on the game favored the Dynamo. The first save for Bill Hamid came in the 23rd minute, when the keeper had to grab a header from Romell Quioto. Hamid then was almost beat by Rodriguez on a back-post header in the 29th minute, but the midfielder couldn't keep his header on frame.
Paul Arriola was set up by a nifty back heel from right back Leonardo Jara in the 35th minute, freeing the midfielder to send in a cross. The ball from Arriola was inviting, but there was no one in white for D.C. in the area to get a touch as the ball skipped all the way through the box.
Halftime came without much more fanfare as Mauro Manotas was able to get a shot off in the box in the 43rd minute. But the shot on the quick turn was nowhere near troubling Hamid and was cleared by the Black-and-Red before going out of the box.
In a blink of the eye, United were ahead to start the second half, thanks to Rooney's seventh goal of the season. Russell Canouse won the ball in his own end, and Lucas Rodriguez quickly moved the ball through midfield. Luciano Acosta then shuttled the ball out wide to Ulises Segura in the box, who zipped the ball in front of goal. That ball found Rooney unmarked at the far post, and he had little trouble tapping a shot in.
That goal woke up the hosts though, with the Dynamo nearly finding an equalizer minutes after Rooney's goal. In the 50th minute, a free kick from Quioto found Alejandro Fuenmayor at the far post, but the defender couldn't get a clean shot off.
United seemed to have gotten the game to calm down before two goals in two minutes allowed Houston to seize the lead. First, Rodriguez took advantage of a turnover in United's half. The midfielder, who wasn't closed down, skipped in front of the box and fired a shot that got underneath Hamid for the equalizer in the 66th minute.
Houston then quickly pounced on the momentum, with McNamara bundling the go-ahead goal in just moments later. A cross from left back Adam Lundkvist found McNamara at the far post, just seconds after the former NYCFC man entered the game. The ball bounced in off of McNamara's hip after Pedroso lost the mark inside the box.
Manotas, who had been held in check for most of the night, came close to making it three for Houston in the 70th minute, firing off a thunderous shot that Hamid had to be equal to at the near post to prevent a third goal.
Before the Black-and-Red could mount any late desperation comeback, Arriola was sent off in the 85th minute after a review. Arriola fouled Lundkvist, who went to the ground. But Arriola appeared to still be trying to win the ball, and stepped on Lundkvist in the process. Originally given a yellow, the card was changed to a red, reducing United to 10 men for the final five minutes.
Deep in stoppage time, Jara won a header on a free kick from Rooney, sending the ball towards goal. Joe Willis seemed to have it covered, but the ball bounced just wide, ending United's hopes of grabbing a result in Houston.
United will play Spanish side Real Betis in a friendly on Wednesday at Audi Field before traveling to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday.