By EVAN REAM
The Houston Dynamo’s playoff hopes looked to be in jeopardy of disappearing into the warm Houston night on Saturday night when the Montreal Impact took a 2-1 second-half lead.
Giles Barnes and Ricardo Clark saw to it that the Dynamo’s postseason hopes are still alive.
Despite going down 2-1 to the Montreal Impact early in the second half, a depleted Dynamo side rallied with second-half goals from Barnes and Clark to post a 3-2 comeback victory over the Impact
For Houston (9-13-4, 31 points), it was their first game since losing starting goalkeeper Tally Hall to a torn ACL, compounding the losses already felt by injured starters Will Bruin and Jermaine Taylor as well as the suspended Kofi Sarkodi.
Barnes opened up the scoring in the 30th minute of the game when he took advantage of a defense mistake from the Impact (5-16-5, 20 points), taking the ball off of a defender and slaloming behind the defense before toe-poking the ball past goalkeeper Evan Bush from close range for the first goal of his brace.
Just 10 minutes later, the Impact drew level when a cheeky pass from Felipe found former US youth international Dilly Duka open in the box where the youngster calmly tucked a side footed shot into the corner of the net.
New Montreal Designated Player Ignacio Piatti then gave the visitors the advantage after Marco di Viaio played him through near the midfield stripe. The Argentine striker found himself with acres of space and raced towards the goal before finishing over the onrushing Tyler Deric, who was given the start in between the pipes, to make it 2-1.
The equalizer came just six minutes later when Omar Cummings, in for Bruin and just coming off an injury of his own, squared a ball across the box that Barnes cleanly finished at the far post.
“Omar’s been brilliant,” Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said after the match. “He had limited training last week or so. To come in that long and play at that tempo, credit to him.”
Ricardo Clark, known more for his grit than skill, then finished the game off with a scissor kick off a corner that somehow found its way through a myriad of defenders to Clark at the back post.
The Dynamo midfielder trapped the ball up to himself and blasted the ball home, sending the crowd and the pandemonium and moving Houston closer to the playoffs.
Though he didn’t make any saves Deric came up big for the Dynamo early when he came off his line to force Impact striker Marco di Viaio to rush his close-range shot and ultimately hit it wide in just the third minute of the game.
“It’s a tough place to play,” Montreal midfielder Dilly Duka said of BBVA Compass Stadium. “The pitch is dry and it was probably one of the hottest days of the summer. But that’s not what cost us the game. They have some quality players and if you turn off, even for a moment, they are going to punish you.”