Chris Rolfe's stunning effort from a free kick in the first half was not quite enough for D.C. United on Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo, as Ricardo Clark's goal in the second half meant the spoils were shared, 1-1. The big news before the game was the absence of keeper Bill Hamid, who was forced to miss the game with a thigh contusion.
Rolfe then grabbed the narrative in the first half, firing home from 20 yards out. But Clark's goal in the second half doomed United to a second consecutive home draw, both games in which they led at half.
Rolfe's goal was one of the few highlights of a rather drab opening 45 minutes. After United maintained possession for the opening minutes, Houston carved out a couple of good looks in the 6th minute. First, Giles Barnes tested Dykstra from range, forcing United's number two keeper to parry away.
Houston kept the pressure up, and with United overloaded on the left side, a ball into the box found Alex Lopez unmarked at the far post, only for the Honduran to lash wide from a tight angle.
Ricardo Clark had another opportunity for the Dynamo minutes later. Brad Davis played DaMarcus Beasley into space on the left flank, and the former USA international quickly spotted Clark in the box, but the Dynamo midfielder rushed a shot straight at Dykstra for an easy save.
United's opportunities were hard to come by for most of the first half. Chris Pontius failed to connect on a Taylor Kemp corner, and then Michael Farfan was muscled off the ball in the box after almost working himself into a shooting position.
Which set the stage for Rolfe's goal in the 36th. With Luis Silva on the bench, Kemp, Rolfe, and Davy Arnaud stood over the ball. Kemp ran over it, and Arnaud feinted as if he was going to lay it off, but Rolfe struck the ball towards the far post. Tyler Deric got his gloves on the shot, but failed to keep it out as United took the lead.
Jairo Arrieta fired straight at Deric as the first half wore down, and in the 45th minute, Kofi Sarkodie's well placed cross was just out of reach of the sliding Clark.
The second half started brightly for the Black and Red, as Farfan almost notched their second goal on a one timed effort from the top of the box that forced Deric into a sprawling save. Arrieta then shot straight at Deric, before Pontius wasted an opportunity from a Rolfe through ball.
The introduction of Will Bruin at halftime made a difference for Houston, as they began to create chances at the attacking end. Barnes had a sharply hit long ball skip into the side netting in the 53rd minute, before he hit the post on a one timer in the 60th.
Dynamo's equalizer seemed in the cards, and they finally got on the scoreboard in the 65th minute courtesy of Clark;s second goal of the season. Bruin got onto the end of a Davis cross, and forced Dykstra into a tough save. His save left the ball in the middle of the box, and Clark was completely unmarked to slot home to even the score.
Conceding appeared to spurn United on to find a winner, as they created several openings for themselves. But Silva, who came on for Farfan, hit a shot straight at Deric, before fellow sub Nick DeLeon failed to direct a Kemp cross on target.
Sarkodie had the best chance to find a winner in the 77th minute, but was foiled by United's defense. Bruin deftly slipped Sarkodie into the box, but his first effort was blocked by Kemp, and the follow up effort from close range was saved by Dykstra at the near post.