Not content with the drama of a very late winner last week, the Portland Timbers weathered a two-goal deficit at halftime to come back and tie the Houston Dynamo 2-2 at Providence Park on Friday night.
Goals from Boniek García and Will Bruin put the visitors ahead, before Darlington Nagbe narrowed the scoreline for the Timbers in the final quarter-hour, and Lucas Melano scored his first goal in a Timbers jersey to bring the hosts level.
Portland (11-8-7) move up to 40 points, and remain in 4th place in the Western Conference, while the Dynamo (8-9-8) stay in 8th place in the West on 32 points.
Portland had the first legitimate chance in the 11th minute. Alvas Powell, dribbling through the midfield, sent a terrific entry pass to Melano in Houston's box, and the Argentine sent a low cross to his compatriot Diego Valeri. But Valeri could not get a clean shot off from point blank range, and Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric smothered the ball.
Deric stepped up in the 37th minute, as he saved Melano's close-range shot off a Valeri cross to keep the score level.
His team rewarded his effort three minutes later with the opening goal. Following a partially cleared Dynamo corner kick, Garcia made a run in the box, received a short pass from Bruin, and buried the chance past Kwarasey.
Bruin then got his chance just before halftime, as Portland failed to deal with an interception in the midfield and Houston recovered the ball and headed down the field on an attack. Brad Davis sent a throughball to Bruin, who finished in the same area in Portland's box as Garcia minutes earlier.
The Timbers nearly gifted Houston a goal just after the break, as Liam Ridgewell's headed back pass to goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was intercepted by Bruin, but Kwarasey was able to recover and block the chip attempt.
Portland had two solid appeals for penalties in the game, though both went unheeded by referee Ricardo Salazar. In the first, Davis appeared to handle the ball in the box on a Timbers corner kick in the 22nd minute, and then second-half substitute Fanendo Adi was kicked in the back of the leg in Houston's box at the hour mark.
After putting increasing pressure on the visitors in the second half, the Timbers finally found a breakthrough in the 76th minute. Nagbe sent a quick pass to Melano, who held up the ball at the top of the box, surrounded by Dynamo defenders, and sent a pass back to Nagbe, continuing his run into the box, before sending the one-timer past Deric to make it 2-1.
Before long, Melano got in on the action, notching his equalizer in the 86th minute, as he tipped the ball from Valeri's early cross through a crowded penalty area that made its way into the net.
The door was opened for the Dynamo late, however, as Diego Chara was shown a straight red card for an arm to the neck of Dynamo substitute Erick "Cubo" Torres in second-half stoppage time. Despite having possession for the game's dying moments, Houston could not find another go-ahead goal and the teams ended with a point apiece.
Portland will have a break before gearing up for a Cascadia showdown against the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 30, while Houston will head to Colorado for a clash on Wednesday against the Rapids.
Portland Timbers (11-8-7, 40 points) vs. Houston Dynamo (8-9-8, 32 points)
MLS regular season
August 21, 2015 – Providence Park – Portland, Oregon
Attendance: 21,144 (sellout)
Houston Dynamo: Boniek Garcia 3 (Will Bruin 2) 40
Houston Dynamo: Will Bruin 10 (Brad Davis 7) 45
Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe 2 (Lucas Melano 1) 76
Portland Timbers: Lucas Melano 1 (Diego Valeri 5) 86
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Raul Rodriguez, Sheanon Williams; Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido, Rasheed Olabiyi (Nate Sturgis 61), Brad Davis (Leonel Miranda 89), Alex Lima; Will Bruin (Erick Torres 72)
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Willis, AJ Cochran, Mauro Manotas, Alexander Lopez
Portland Timbers: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana (Dairon Asprilla 82); Diego Chara, Will Johnson; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace (Fanendo Adi 57); Lucas Melano
Substitutes Not Used: Jake Gleeson, Norberto Paparatto, Taylor Peay, Jack Jewsbury, Maxi Urruti
HOU: Boniek Garcia (caution) 32
HOU: Luis Garrido (caution) 72
POR: Diego Chara (ejection) 90+1
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistant Referees: Mike Kampmeinert; Eduardo Mariscal
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal