|Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat is tripped up by Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex., June 20, 2012. (BOB LEVEY/Getty Images/AFP)
Three arrests, three goals and three points lost in Houston as Toronto’s topsy-turvy road trip ended in Texas on Wednesday night.
Amid countless distractions after Luis Silva, Miguel Aceval and Nick Soolsma were jailed following a fight at a downtown Houston club early Monday morning, after taking two-goal advantage into the break, Toronto conceded an equalizer at the death to deny it maximum points on the road.
Following a positive start to the second half, when Houston’s Will Bruin cut Toronto’s lead with 20 minutes remaining, you could sense it.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the 90th minute, after absorbing an orange wave during the final moments, a Geoff Cameron cross re-connected with Bruin, who headed past a helpless Milos Kocic as Toronto’s lacklustre defence looked on.
It was the ninth time in 12 league fixtures the Reds have allowed two or more goals and the sixth time Toronto has conceded three times in an MLS match — inexplicable numbers that haven’t improved under newly instated head coach Paul Mariner.
Electing to go with a 15-man roster after sending the arrested trio home earlier this week, the Reds got off to their best start of the season, bagging the game's opener and adding two more to close the half.
Houston conceded against the run of play in the 13th minute when a corner fell to Eric Avila at the top of the box. Avila’s half-volley failed to make it through traffic but bounced to Jeremy Hall, whose close range effort caromed in off the post.
The home side’s Bobby Boswell erased Toronto’s lead seven minutes later because of abysmal marking on a corner. Replays showed Richard Eckersley lose Boswell before the Dynamo’s towering centre back briefly levelled the proceedings.
As supporters continued to celebrate the home side’s equalizer, TFC’s Ryan Johnson raced the other way. The Jamaican’s spirited run through midfield opened space for Avila, who received a through-pass from Johnson on the right side of the box. Avila’s first-time cross found Koevermans, whose easy finish completed a run of three goals between the two sides in under 10 minutes.
Toronto’s encouraging start turned into a dream minutes before halftime when Koevermans rose to meet Julian de Guzman’s cross in the 45th minute to put the Reds up 3-1 heading into the break.
With Adrian Cann out injured, Mariner elected to begin Wednesday’s game the same way he ended the loss in Kansas City. With Eckersley replacing Cann in the heart of Toronto’s defence, Jeremy Hall moved from the left to the right while Ashtone Morgan regained his spot on the left side.
Although the combination did well to contain the Dynamo from box-to-box, Toronto’s makeshift back four conceded a pair of unforgivable goals off crosses
The home side found a way back into the match in the 73rd when Brad Davis picked out a streaking Will Bruin at the top of the circle. Bruin’s first touch took him well into the penalty area before his right-footed effort flew into the top corner to unnerve the Reds.
The 21,423 in attendance were brought to their feet seconds before stoppage time when three Toronto defenders failed to account for Bruin at the back post. While TFC’s backs were ball-watching, the second-year pro towered over Hall to score a dramatic equalizer and earn the home side a share of the points.
While the result was good enough to secure Toronto its first road points of the season, the result keeps it four points behind the Philadelphia Union, which currently occupies second-to-last place in the East.