Reminiscent of vintage Houston Dynamo, they pulled out a dramatic, last-second 3-2 victory against visiting Real Salt Lake. The unlikely hero for the Orange was homegrown player Alex Dixon, who sent the 16,247 fans at Robertson Stadium home happy with "the last kick of the ball."
"I'm happy for Alex to come out and make a difference," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "I'm happy for the guys; they showed great determination this week to come out undefeated this week and score two goals very late."
Dixon's heroics came in second half stoppage time. With time running down, Brad Davis sent a cross into the box that was cleared by RSL defender Chris Schuler. Dixon rounded up the loose ball, dribbled along the top of the congested box and rifled a 20-yard shot past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The game-winning tally was Dixon's first career MLS goal.
"[The goal was] exciting...last minute, game-winner, we got three points; there's a lot of emotion going around," Dixon told Hair Balls. "I'm just happy for the team mostly. We're making a run for the playoffs and I'm just happy to get the three points."
Raised in the Humble area, Dixon played youth soccer with the Texas Heat and the Houston Texans Soccer Club. He also was a member of the US U-17 residency program at Bradenton, Florida. In 2007, Dixon joined the Dynamo Academy. He played three years at the University of North Carolina, helping them advance to three straight NCAA College Cups.
When the Dynamo brought him in to the first team this season, they knew there would be a learning curve. Because of his athletic abilities, the coaching staff and veteran players pushed him hard so he could learn how to be a professional.
"We always try to tell him if he's on the bench, don't enjoy the game; watch it, so if you come on you know what you want to do," Kinnear said.
Dixon watched on the bench as the Dynamo fell behind twice in each half. The first was a Fabian Espindola shot in the 27th minute, the second was a Luis Gil header in the 61st minute. He watched as the Dynamo tied the game twice; first when Ching made it 1-1 in the 47th minute, then when Bobby Boswell had his fourth goal of the season off of a corner kick in the 69th minute. So when Kinnear showed confidence in his young playmaker by calling his name in the 80th minute to replace Colin Clark, Dixon knew what was expected of him. Dixon rewarded his boss -- and himself -- with his first career MLS goal, and put the team one step closer to going back to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
"It's definitely helping build confidence that I can play; I'm just trying to keep building on it," Dixon said. "The most important thing for the team is to try and get into the playoffs and make that run."
The Dynamo's late-season run continues next Saturday, when they travel to America's hat to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.