Juan Pablo Angel Plunges Fist, Extracts Still-Beating Heart of Houston Dynamo

In the 94th minute of the New York-Houston game at Red Bull Arena last night, with the score tied 1-1, New York forward Conor Chinn drew a foul 35 yards from the Dynamo goal.

Juan Pablo Angel stepped up to take the free kick … and banged it in off the post to win the game for MetroBull at the very last gasp.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic had opened the scoring for New York in the 15th minute and Brian Ching hit an equalizer for Houston in the 65th. Click here for the highlights.

Angel’s blast stopped a four-game losing streak for the Red Bulls and avoided a tie that would have felt like a fifth straight loss: New York squandered no less than five clear chances, including three by Angel, the team’s best player and perennial crowd favorite who veered close to turning the Red Bull Arena fans against him by missing those three excellent opportunities and turning the ball over with uncharacteristic frequency. All that was immediately forgiven, of course, with his brilliant game-winning strike.

But apart from the shoddy finishing—John Wolyniec hit the crossbar from a good position in the box in the second half, and Tony Tchani flubbed a wide open shot from 12 yards—the Red Bulls played well, as they did in their 3-2 loss to New England this past Saturday. They finished that game with nine men after defenders Carlos Mendes and Roy Miller were sent off.

The team also played some good soccer in its 3-1 loss to Columbus on May 20.

And guess what? There is a common thread to this run of good form: The complete absence of Carl Robinson from the lineup. We don’t think it’s a coincidence, and we hope coach Hans Backe agrees.

Backheels:

• Former U.S. national team and New York Cosmos defender Bobby Smith, a National Soccer Hall of Famer, was seated three rows behind the Backpost crew at RBA last night. Unfortunately, he left before Angel’s dramatic winner.

• This was the second time in as many games that Houston surrendered a stoppage-time winner; last week, Philadelphia rookie Danny Mwanga beat them with a goal in the waning moments.

• There was an interesting subplot in the game involving 20-year-old Houston winger Danny Cruz and veteran Dynamo defenders Eddie Robinson and Richard Mulrooney. Mulrooney and especially Robinson were continually, and comically, yelling at Cruz to either come back for the ball, or get forward to leave space for the wingback behind him. He was always doing one when they wanted the other, much to their frustration and the field-level spectators’ delight.

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