Melano pulls Portland to 2-2 draw against Houston
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) It was a night of firsts for Lucas Melano.
The Argentine striker's first MLS goal came in the 86th minute to pull the Portland Timbers into a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Friday night.
Melano, who signed with the Timbers last month, also got his first assist 10 minutes earlier as the Timbers rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
Of course he was happy to score the goal, but ''more importantly, to rescue a point here at home, which I felt we deserved,'' he said through a translator.
Boniek Garcia and Will Bruin each scored in the first half for Houston, which was missing key players because of injury as it fights to stay in playoff contention.
Darlington Nagbe narrowed it with a goal in the 76th minute. Portland has scored 14 of its 28 goals this season in the final 15 minutes. The Timbers remained in fourth in the Western Conference behind Sporting Kansas City.
''The second half, those 45 minutes might be the most important 45 minutes of the season,'' coach Caleb Porter said about the comeback half. ''We hadn't done that yet this year.''
Garcia beat Kwarasey against the run of play in the 40th minute to put Houston up 1-0. It was the first goal that the Timbers had conceded at home in 313 minutes.
Less than six minutes later, Bruin took a feed from Brad Davis and blasted the ball past Kwarasey into the corner. It was Bruin's fourth career goal against the Timbers.
Kwarasey, who leads the league with 11 shutouts, had only allowed seven goals at home this season going into the match.
The Timbers peppered Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric in the second half, finally breaking through with Nagbe's goal. Melano was credited with the assist.
Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley was listed as questionable with a left calf strain before the game and did not play. He was replaced by Kofi Sarkodie.
Houston also sat Giles Barnes because of right Achilles tendinitis and midfielder Ricardo Clark because of a sore left hamstring.
Beasley has been called up by the U.S. national team for a pair of exhibitions next month against Peru and Brazil, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday. Also named to the roster was Tim Howard, who took a year off from the national team after the World Cup in Brazil last year.
Beasley is a four-time World Cup veteran who retired from international play last December. But he returned to the squad for the Gold Cup this summer.
The game marked the first start for Nigerian midfielder Rasheed Olabiyi, signed by the Dynamo in July.
It was the third meeting between the two teams. The Dynamo won the first, 3-1 in May, and the Timbers took the second 2-0 in June.
''I think that we're all square. One win each and one tie,'' Dynamo coach Owen Coyle said. ''So, I thought it was two evenly matched sides. I'd loved to have, certainly the last two times I've played them, I've not had my full personnel. I'd love to come here and play them with my best team available. But they're a good side, a wonderful coach, and they're a good club.''
The Timbers were coming off a 1-0 victory on the road against Real Salt Lake, while Houston lost 2-0 at New England last Saturday.
The Dynamo plays the last of three straight road games on Wednesday at the Colorado Rapids.
The Timbers play at rival Seattle next weekend, but they'll be without midfielder Diego Chara, who was served with a red card in stoppage time.