Back in 2007, Houston trailed New England by a goal in a big game on the East Coast. It was the MLS Cup final, in face.
A formation change out of the Dynamo’s tried-and-true 4-4-2 gave Houston what it needed, an equalizer that turned the match (and those MLS Cup fortunes, as Houston went on to win.)
The stakes weren’t as high Saturday at Gillette Stadium, but the result probably will mean a lot in deciding who does and doesn’t go into the 2013 MLS playoffs. And once again, it was a shift out of the 4-4-2 and into a 3-5-2 that helped get Houston there against the Revs.
Houston’s 1-1 draw at Gillette keeps Houston in fourth place, still with a chance of catching Sporting Kansas City for the far more valuable third spot. Plus, Dominic Kinnear’s team has three of its remaining four regular season matches at home, so things look pretty good for the Orange. (Which is surely why Houston folded itself right back into the 4-4-2 following Will Bruin’s 76th minute strike; the tie serves Houston well.)
The draw does not, on the other hand, do good things for the Revolution, trying to fight its way back into the post-season bidding for the first time since 2009. Jay Heaps’ team is sixth, still one spot out of the playoffs.
Highlights from Gillette Stadium:
Jamie Vardy has joined several Leicester City voices in refuting claims that he helped usher in the dismissal of championship-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.
Vardy led the Foxes in scoring during last season’s run to the Premier League title, but has struggled to follow that success this season. He has five goals in 22 matches.
[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died” ]
Ranieri was fired this week with Leicester on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone, where they now sit ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Vardy wants the world to know this wasn’t his preference, saying, “There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]
That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.