By RYAN TOLMICH
With just three games remaining in the Major League Soccer season, Toronto FC’s playoff aspirations received a major dent due to the steady hands of Tyler Deric.
The Houston Dynamo goalkeeper stopped a Jermain Defoe penalty kick in the 55th minute as the Dynamo held on to pick up a 1-0 victory off a first-half Giles Barnes finish.
Deric’s save appeared to be a major turning point, as Dynamo defender AJ Cochran was issued a red card for his penalty-conceding foul on TFC’s Luke Moore. However, with Defoe shooting for what might have been TFC’s season, Derric dove to his right to save the penalty kick and preserve the Dynamo lead.
The game’s lone goal came in the 35th minute via Barnes, who outmuscled TFC defender Nick Hagglund to get in alone on goal to give his side the 1-0 advantage.
The Dynamo forward broke his way down the right sideline by shrugging off Hagglund before corralling the ball and darting on net. Barnes then smashed a shot between the legs of goalkeeper Joe Bendik to give his side what ended up being the game-winning goal.
Barnes’ finish proved to be the difference due to the spectacular play of both goalkeepers, as Derric and Bendik finished with six and five saves, respectively.
The Dynamo maintain a glimmer of hope when it comes to playoff qualification, as Wednesday’s victory pulls the club within four points of the fifth-place Columbus Crew. Meanwhile, Toronto FC failed to take advantage of having a game in hand and remain three points adrift of fifth-place.
TFC will have a chance to regain that ground Saturday, when they travel to Harrison, New Jersey, to take on the fourth-place New York Red Bulls, while the Dynamo look to continue their push Sunday against conference-leading D.C. United.
Here are the match highlights: